In sport, when a team achieves a high, sometimes a low is followed. India won a Test series against Australia for the first time in their 71 years of touring. However, they were brought crashing down to earth when they lost the first ODI at the Sydney Cricket Ground by 34 runs. With the short nature of the series, the second game becomes a high-stake encounter. A win for Australia will give them a much-needed boost in their preparation for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup while a loss for India could throw a spanner in their works. For Virat Kohli, a win is essential as they look to sustain their momentum in the 12 matches before the marquee tournament.
India are currently grappling with the issue of balance in the squad. In Sydney, they were guilty of playing with a wrong team composition. Dinesh Karthik was picked when Kedar Jadhav’s offspin would have proved much more effective on the Sydney wicket. India, already hampered by Jasprit Bumrah being rested, struggled for the fifth bowler combination. Kohli might be tempted to replace Karthik with Jadhav and it will be interesting to see whether Khaleel Ahmed, who had an off game in Sydney, might be rested and Mohammed Siraj might play.
However, the batting poses a big conundrum. The top order were shredded by the pace of Jason Behrendorff and Jhye Richardson. MS Dhoni’s knock was a mixed one. His 68th fifty and his first since 2017 was an indicator that he is in some semblance of form but his slow knock was criticised heavily by former players and by fans on social media. The Dhoni conundrum will deepen even further if he fails to put up a significant score in Adelaide. Rohit Sharma, who showed his love for the Australian attack and pitches Down Under, will once again be the key.
Australia eye series win
In 2018, Australia endured a horrible time in all formats. They were whitewashed 5-0 in England and lost series at home to England and South Africa. Aaron Finch’s side now have a big chance to secure their first series win since 2017. Alex Carey, the Australian wicketkeeper, summed up the importance of a series win against a side who have dominated the international circuit for the last few years.
"It would mean a lot, it has been a while. I want to see Australia win and being part of it means so much to us every game we play. But to continue to get better every game is probably our biggest process at the moment leading into that World Cup. Against India, they're a really good side so they're going to look to bounce back pretty quickly, so it's going to be a great opportunity to stand up tomorrow night, to puff our chests out again and hopefully put another really good performance," he said.
Carey insisted that Australia are not seeing the ongoing contest as a revenge series after the loss in Tests against India.
"I think the performance the other night is a really good step in the right direction. If you take a look at our batting performance, we all played well, we all played our role, and then with the ball having them three down early was pretty early. But having to break that big partnership between MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma and get over the line was, as a player, was a really amazing feeling out there,” Carey reiterated.
The Australian batting received good contributions from the top, with Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh slamming fifties and Marcus Stoinis slamming a wonderful cameo. With Richardson and Behrendorff chipping in, Australia would be hoping that the consistency continues in Adelaide.