Virat Kohli’s India eye perfect 10, Australia aim to break overseas woes
Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team, who have secured nine consecutive ODI victories, will be aiming for a perfect 10 after taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series against Australia, who have lost their last 11 out of 13 overseas ODIs.
The current India-Australia series has witnessed some peculiar patterns. India dominating, Australia collapsing, Hardik Pandya hurting them every time, Glenn Maxwell dismissed by Yuzvendra Chahal in each game and rain accompanying the two teams on every location so far.
In the Chennai, Kolkata and Indore ODIs, rain a couple of days before match day dominated the buildup. The situation is no different in Bangalore, where the Indian team’s practice session in the afternoon was ruined by a steady drizzle. The forecast on match day is not too promising, with scattered thunderstorms forecast in the afternoon.
However, the new M Chinnaswamy Stadium has a drainage system that dries the outfield quickly. Thanks to the subsurface aeration system, play can resume within minutes if it stops raining.
For Virat Kohli’s side, rain or no rain, they have established a blueprint that has served them well. With the series in the bag, India will not only be gunning for a 5-0 whitewash but will want a perfect 10, their best winning streak in ODIs. On the other hand, Steve Smith’s side is struggling for ideas as they look to reverse their worst overseas losing streak.
Problem of plenty
Virat Kohli is spoilt for options in the current squad. The depth of talent, both in bowling and batting, is so deep that the Indian management might have a tough task in determining the composition of the playing XI.
It is this intense competition for places, looking at it from the experimentation prism for the 2019 World Cup that gives this Indian team a certain edge. Manish Pandey acknowledged in the pre-match presser that this pressure only motivates him to work harder.
“I want to play more games and help win matches for India. There is competition for spots. So, I will have to put in all the hard work,” said Pandey.
In the practice session on Tuesday, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami had a decent bowling workout and Kohli might be tempted to rest either Jasprit Bumrah or Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The key on this wicket will be Yuzvendra Chahal. The 27-year-old leg-spinner has a great record at this venue, having taken 6/25 in the Twenty20 International against England in February.
Australia’s overseas woes
Steve Smith’s side has lost 11 out of 13 overseas ODIs. They arrive at a venue where they have won only one out of four games. India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has had a field day in sledging the Australians, from calling for the return of Michael Clarke to the middle order to stating that the current Australian team is like “Sri Lanka in yellow.”
Australia are in a similar situation that India faced during their tour Down Under in 2016. After losing the first four games, India won the fifth ODI and the remaining three Twenty20 Internationals to tie the tour score line to 4-4.
David Warner, who will be playing his 100th ODI, has said that there is still plenty at stake for Australia and that they will give their best in the remaining five games.
“We have to make the most of the remaining five games. You try to win the overall battle. Even though the series is lost, we still have two more ODIs and three Twenty20 Internationals to turn the tour around,” Warner said.
Steve Smith’s side faces an uphill task to arrest their losing streak overseas. Their task will not get easier at their bogey venue.