At the start of the five-match One-day International rubber against Australia, it was hard to believe that the last game at Ferozeshah Kotla on Wednesday would be the series decider. It was more so after India were 2-0 ahead going into last three matches.
Credit should go to Australia, who were hard pressed after home defeat to India, for showing tremendous fighting spirit to chase down an impossible looking total to level the series in Mohali on Sunday. Not to forget that all this has been achieved without Steve Smith and David Warner.
Going into the deciding ODI, the visitors are looking more confident under the new-found heroes like Peter Handscomb and Ashton Turner.
On the other hand, India have been busy experimenting with various team combinations before the World Cup. With Delhi ODI being India’s last chance, one can expect more of it. However, apart from Vijay Shankar, at various positions, no other experiment has paid off for the hosts in the ongoing series.
But Virat Kohli and his boys are not visibly shaken by all this. Even the loss in Mohali, where India went down despite amassing 358 has failed to ring warning bells in the hosts’ dressing room.
So, the last available practice session on Tuesday was unanimously not used by any of the players. The official version that “considering the workload that the team has been subjected to and the fact that we have played two back-to-back matches” came from bowling coach Bharat Arun.
That’s why all this practice time was duly utilised by players to unwind by attending functions over the last few days.
Some of the players enjoyed food at Mohammed Shami’s house in Ghaziabad on Monday night.
“To be mentally and physically fresh for the all-important final, we did not practice today,” Arun defended team’s decision on the eve of the final ODI.
Having lost the last game in Mohali due to dew, the Kohli-led side is not getting any respite in the capital city, too.
Indian think-tank was found wanting on two consecutive occasions in the last one week. In Ranchi, Kohli thought dew would make an impact and it turned out to be exactly the opposite. In Mohali, he felt that dew will not be a factor but it made a huge impact.
Delhi is witnessing heavy dew over the last many days. And together with warning of light showers by the Met department on Wednesday, team bowling last could well find itself in similar situation as that in Mohali. It will be quite a task to grip the ball or holding on to catches.
The only good thing for India was getting Shikhar Dhawan back in rhythm. But it was an off day for skipper Kohli, who subjected himself to experiment at No. 4 batting position.
The Indian skipper has been in sublime form in this ongoing series, hitting two centuries and aggregating 290 runs at an average of 72.50.
India might think of tinkering with bowling department. New ball specialist Bhuvneshwar Kumar looked ineffective in the death overs while the lack of a specialist fifth bowler that has been forcing Kohli to rely on Kedar Jadhav may cost India dear.
Did You Know?
- When Rohit Sharma walks out to bat on Wednesday, it will be his 200th ODI innings in 206 matches
- Ferozeshah Kotla will host its 25th ODI match on Wednesday. India have played in 19 of them, winning 12, losing 6 with one no result
- 46 No. of runs Rohit Sharma needs to become the ninth Indian to score 8,000 or more runs in ODIs.
- 3 No. of ODIs India have won against Australia at the Kotla out of the matches they have played against each other here