When India won the bilateral series in Australia, New Zealand as well as the first two ODIs at home, it seemed Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team had all their boxes ticked. The top order was contributing and the middle order was in great shape. The bowling, pacers and spinners, were all clinically executing their job. It seemed India were a well-oiled machine. To add to the bonanza, there is a strong bench strength which gives this side the added factor of ‘problem of plenty’. However, the loss in Ranchi has exposed some areas of concerns heading into the fourth ODI at Mohali. With the five-match series still in India’s favour, Kohli’s side need not worry too much but they will be looking to improve on some areas.
The first area of concern is at the top. Shikhar Dhawan, who hit 75 and 66 in the first two ODIs against New Zealand, has had scores of 28,13,6,0,21 and 1 since then. Earlier, Dhawan’s failures would be masked by a contribution from Rohit Sharma at the top but he has been subdued in the three matches so far. On top of that, Ambati Rayudu has struggled in all the games so far. Ravindra Jadeja has been disappointing with both bat and ball so far and it seems India will have to play the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 minus a back-up for Hardik Pandya.
The bowling was in good form yet again but India have a slight area of concern. Kedar Jadhav, who contributed well with the ball in two games, was taken to the cleaners in Ranchi and India had no Plan B to fall back on. With the Indian cricket team having an off day, Australia would be glad that everything fell in place for them. The opening partnership, which went past 100 for the first time since June 2018, gives them stability. The middle order chipped with cameos and the bowling came good, with Adam Zampa proving his worth in these conditions.
For three matches now, Virat Kohli has named an unchanged team, which is very much unlike his captaincy stint. After the Ranchi loss, will he be tempted to make any changes? MS Dhoni will rest for the two games and this gives Rishabh Pant a chance. In addition, Kohli might be tempted to try KL Rahul at the top and give Dhawan a rest. Yuzvendra Chahal might replace Jadeja as Kohli looks to employ his two wristspinner policy on Indian decks which has given him success. Mohammed Shami suffered an injury during the Ranchi game and he might make way for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
For Australia, the inclusion of Jhye Richardson made a massive difference. The youngster bowled accurately at pace and troubled the Indian top order. Pat Cummins and Zampa ensured the pressure was built and they might be tempted to field the same side.
India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Vijay Shankar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Jhye Richardson, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa.
Who will win?
Australia has won five out of six encounters in Mohali ever since 1996. In the 2013 encounter, James Faulkner pulled off a stunning run-chase as he smashed Ishant Sharma for 30 runs to give Australia a famous win. Heading into Mohali, Australia have momentum but on this venue, Rohit Sharma scored his third double ton in ODIs which was against Sri Lanka. On paper, Australia can win at a venue where they have had success in the past.
Pitch and weather
The Mohali wicket is traditionally known to be a batting wicket where high scores are the norm. However, there are chances of rain delaying the start of the match. One hopes that the rain stays away and that there is a cracking contest on the cards.
Stadium and Timings
Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra stadium (PCA), Mohali. Match will start at 1:30 PM IST.