India v Australia 2nd ODI Preview: Hurting India out to make it 1-1 at Rajkot
It is not often that Virat Kohli's Team India is totally outplayed, that too in home conditions. The team must be itching to go out on the field in the 2nd ODI and set the record straight.
Biggish Rajkot ground to play a part
The 2nd ODI will be played at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot which is one of the bigger grounds in India. It would not be as easy for the batsmen to clear the field or to get boundaries at it was in Mumbai.
The pitch though batting-friendly is a bit on the slower side and can help the spinners if they bowl at the right pace and in the right areas. Rajkot is one of the few biggish grounds in India which would also mean more singles on offer.
Bigger square boundaries would also serve as an encouragement for the spinners who can toss the ball up more frequently and not fear getting clubbed over the boundary repeatedly.
How to fit in Yuzvendra Chahal
This would encourage India to somehow fit in Yuzvendra Chahal in the playing XI. It is for several months now that Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have not played in the same XI and it is probably time for India to go back to a ploy that worked well for them in the last couple of years.
It was evident in the first ODI that David Warner and Aaron Finch were the most comfortable against the pace bowlers. Kuldeep Yadav troubled them a bit, albeit without any success. It is sensible for India to include Chahal in the playing XI as well, for a pace bowler, probably Shardul Thakur.
It is also well recorded that when the two wrist spinners play together for India, their effectiveness increases. This should be reason enough for Virat Kohli to hyphenate Kulcha again.
Australia brimming with confidence
Aaron Finch and David Warner have always had a brilliant record against India, like they have against most other oppositions. The two have crossed the 50-run mark each time in the last five ODIs against India.
In fact, Warner has gone past 50 each time in the last four ODIs that has played against India. Their opening partnership of 258 was also the third-highest partnership for Australia in ODIs.
If this is not formidable enough, Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith are still waiting to unleash. With all the bowlers having done the job perfectly in Mumbai, Australia will be confident of repeating their heroics in the second ODI as well.
Rishabh Pant unavailable due to slight concussion
After being hit on the head off a Pat Cummins bouncer, Rishabh Pant did not come out to keep wickets in the Mumbai ODI and was under observation for concussion. Although scans have revealed nothing substantial, he is not 100% fit and will continue being under observation. Pant will thus miss the Rajkot ODI.
India do have have the option of adding a specialist keeper to the squad but with little time on their hands and both Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan on the A tour to New Zealand, they will settle for KL Rahul who did a decent job in Mumbai.
Merit in playing either of Shivam Dube or Kedar Jadhav
With Pant unavailable, India have two broad ways in which they can progress. The team can stick to playing both KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan and bat Rahul at number 4 or drop Shikhar Dhawan to allow Rahul to open along with Rohit Sharma.
They can then include one of Kedar Jadhav or Shivam Dube at number 6. With Ravindra Jadeja still in the side, that would serve as contingency for the left-arm spinner. The things that the two bring in to the table are different.
Jadhav is a more experienced hand and knows the intricacies of batting at number 6. If India suffer a batting collapse like they did in Mumbai, he has the ability to soak up the pressure and either take the team to a decent total or help them stay of on track during a chase.
With Shivam Dube, apart from a few overs of useful medium pace, the team can expect a lot of fireworks if India set up a good base. Dube can really explode towards the end and is a more attacking option.
Australia resisting the temptation of Josh Hazlewood
It would be tempting for any team to play Josh Hazlewood if he is in your squad but with Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins bowling superbly as ever and Kane Richardson in great form, it is very difficult to make a place for him.
To add to that, Richardson is known for his slower deliveries which are expected to have a big role on the slowish surface in Rajkot. Hence, Hazlewood might have to wait a bit longer in order to make an ODI appearance.
Here's a look at the expected playing XI of both teams:
India - Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Lokesh Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Kedar Jadhav/Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
Australia - David Warner, Aaron Finch, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa
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