Australia vs India 2nd ODI Preview: India strive for balance as both teams look to clear cobwebs
As Australia aim to seal the series post their 66-run win in the opening ODI, all eyes will be on India, who are expected to bounce back strongly.
Time to shake off rust
There was a lot different about the opening ODI between India and Australia. The crowd was back in international cricket for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world hard in March this year. The players who initially found it tough to play without crowds must have taken a little adjusting to get back to playing in front of them.
India certainly played like a team which had been in a bio bubble for two weeks in Australia on the back of a two-month long IPL bubble. Several catches were put down and their intensity in the field was not up to the mark. Perhaps, they were still in the mood of T20 cricket as the energy notably fell off a cliff after the initial burst. The misfields and dropped chances came back to bite them.
Australia were not a lot better in the field, highlighted by the drop from Adam Zampa at deep fine leg off Virat Kohli. Fortunately for the home side, it did not prove too costly.
India took 40 minutes more than the allotted time to finish their bowling innings and everything seemed to be going on in slow motion after months of T20 cricket.
Steve Smith said after the game that it felt like the longest ODI he had ever played. Both teams are expected to be a bit more comfortable in the ODI mode from this game onwards.
From T20s to ODIs - change in mindset needed
India in particular looked like they were still playing the T20 format. Both Indian openers Mayank Agarwal and Shikhar Dhawan went hard to begin with. That had a lot to do with the fact that they were changing 375 but even after the team reached its 50 only after the first four overs, they did not know when to slow down and how to choose the weak links.
As a result, India lost 4 wickets in a jiffy and were almost pushed out of the chase. The team is expected to bat a bit more sensibly from hereon.
Kohli not willing to concede ground
While the aforementioned sounds like normal cricketing wisdom, Virat Kohli chose to differ in the post-match presentation. Kohli said that the team had decided as a batting unit that they wanted to play positive cricket and will continue on the same route.
It would be nice to know what exactly positive cricket stands for. While a solid defensive block in Test cricket with a fully stretched front foot can also be a sign of positive cricket, keeping the run rate ticking with continuous singles is also nothing short of positive cricket in ODI cricket. However, going after every delivery, like the captain himself did, is playing with fire. Kohli learnt it the hard way in the opening ODI as he pulled one straight to mid-wicket.
India search for balance
While wins and losses are part and parcel of the game, India will certainly be worried about their balance, with Hardik Pandya not yet ready to bowl after he underwent back surgery.
India do not have the sixth bowling option as none of their top 6 batters can bowl. One can only wonder if something like the Stoinis injury happens in the Indian camp, who will fill in? Virat Kohli will have to take his cap off and send down a few dibbly-dobblies.
Henriques or Green for Stoinis
With Marcus Stoinis walking off the field with a groin strain, Australia have a couple of players as his like for like replacements. While Chris Green is a talented youngster and has started bowling after a couple of stress fractures, Moises Henriques is likely to be preferred for his form and experience.
Here's the probable playing XI of both teams:
Australia - David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa
India - Mayank Agarwal, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
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