The third and final ODI between Australia and India will be played at the Manuka Oval, Canberra on Wednesday (December 2).
India came to Australia for a full-fledged tour which was billed as the battle between the two big guns of world cricket. After several stellar performances from the Indian players in the recent IPL 2020, it was being speculated that the Virat-Kohli led side would give the Aussies a run for their money on their home turf.
But, that’s not how the drama unfolded once the tour began Down Under. India looked a mere shadow of the team which had got the better of the Aussies during their last tour in 2018/19. Back then India had defeated Australia 2-1 in the Test series while also winning the ODI series by the same margin.
However, there is just one peculiar detail that has made all the difference – during 2018/19, both Steve Smith and David Warner were serving an year-long ban for their involvement in the infamous ball tampering scandal.
This time around, the two came gunning for redemption. And boy oh boy what a difference they have made. While Warner scored back to back half-centuries in the first two ODI’s, Steve Smith went one better by registering two successive tons. They have absolutely belted the Indian bowling – the same bowlers who were on ‘fire’ in IPL.
Every single Aussie player has been amongst the runs and the side even scripted history in the second ODI when just for the second time in history of the 50-over format, the top five batsmen all scored fifty or more runs in the same game. Glenn Maxwell, who managed just 108 runs in all of IPL 2020, has scored two rapid-fire half centuries – justifying his billing as the best finisher in the game right now.
The Indian bowlers have taken a combined 10 wickets from the two games played so far with Australia posting mammoth totals of 374/6 and 389/4 on the board respectively.
The likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini and Yuzvendra Chahal have looked sub-par, being taken to the cleaners by the Aussie batsmen. It’s really a shame that Hardik Pandya was India’s best bowler in the last game (4-0-24-1) as he picked the crucial wicket of Steve Smith.
The fact that a semi-fit Pandya, who hadn’t bowled in over an year (not delivering a single ball in IPL 2020), had to be brought into the attack as the last roll of the dice, doesn’t augur well for the Kohli-led Indians.
India have been handed some breathing space as David Warner suffered a groin injury in the last game while Aussie pace spearhead Pat Cummins has also been rested for the remainder of the white-ball series (ODI series will be followed by a three-match T20I series).
The Indian batting has been somewhat of a silver lining thus far. They have scored 308 and 338 runs respectively in the first two games – doing well to avoid shameful defeats. However, Australia’s huge totals have proved too steep even for the much hyped Indian batting unit.
While the first two games were played at the SCG, the final game will be played at the Manuka Oval in Canberra. India would be hoping that the new ground and conditions causes some turnaround in their fortunes.
Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke had said that Kohli needs to set the tone before he leaves after the first Test (having been granted a paternity leave) and if India don’t do well in the limited overs series, then they will be smoked 4-0 in the Tests.
The signs already look ominous for India as they have already lost the three match ODI series with the final dead rubber now set to be played. With the series already gone, India need to do everything it can to rescue one for the sake of their own pride. If they lose, the already long tour will seem even more rocky and tumultuous for them.
It will be interesting to see what all changes they make in their playing XI in this dead rubber with many former cricketers vouching for Virat Kohli to step down from limited overs captaincy.