India look to salvage pride as Australia eye 5-0 whitewash
The series already out of their grasp, India will be desperate to salvage some pride by avoiding a whitewash but their spiritless bowlers need to put up a far more inspired show to stop the Australians in the fourth and penultimate cricket ODI here on Wednesday.
Pride will be on the line for India in the remaining two games of the five-match series and it would require a massive improvement in the bowling performance for the visitors to clinch an elusive victory in the so far disappointing trip.
India’s batsmen have gone about their job efficiently, posting big totals on the board but the bowlers have been ordinary at best, allowing the hosts to chase down those tall scores in each of the first three matches to concede a 3-0 lead.
It will be the first time that India will take on Australia at the Manuka Oval. The Men in Blue have played here only once before, losing to Sri Lanka in the 2007-08 CB Series. The current team bears a completely different look from that time, when the likes of Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambhir were still part of the playing eleven. As such skipper MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma are the only ones to have played a game at this ground. Two names from that side, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh, will be back in the T20 set-up by the end of this week.
Back in 2007-08, Rohit and Ishant were visiting Australia for the first time, and both were expected to hold the keys to the future. Now, they have grown into their roles further. At the same time, youngsters Manish Pandey, Gurkeerat Mann and Rishi Dhawan have taken their first steps in international cricket. The focus will be on this trio when Dhoni names his playing eleven, and indeed when he leads the side onto the field.
In the first two matches of this series, India fielded their first-choice eleven. When that didn’t work out as planned, they threw everything they had at the MCG in terms of team selection, thus bringing in the two debutants.
As such, from the batting standpoint, there isn’t much room for manoeuvring. Shikhar Dhawan scored a first half-century in this series at Melbourne, his second in eight ODIs, and in doing so perhaps assured himself of playing in the remaining two matches as well. R Ashwin could be back into the frame, with the management keen on giving him a couple of games to fine- tune his bowling ahead of the T20 series.
Rotation ought to be the management’s policy, especially since they are already suffering owing to Mohammad Shami’s injury problem. Sran looked tired in Melbourne.
Umesh Yadav has been playing since the onset of the season in Sri Lanka and Ishant has played a bulk of the matches. Bhuvneshwar Kumar could replace one of the pacers.
Meanwhile, the Australian camp seemed pretty relaxed on training day ahead of the fourth ODI here. Even so, Glenn Maxwell pointed out immediately after the MCG win that they intend to go for a 5-0 whitewash. David Warner is back from paternity leave, and given the dry nature of the wicket, Nathan Lyon seems a certain inclusion in the playing eleven. It will be interesting to see which bowler is left out.