India vs Australia, 2nd ODI: Pressure Mounts On Shreyas Iyer, Ravichandran Ashwin For Performances That Count
Shreyas Iyer will be desperate for some runs after missing out on a flat track while the skillful R Ashwin will be searching for wickets in the middle overs when India take on Australia in the second ODI in Indore on Sunday. Despite missing four first-XI players, including skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, India were able to win the first ODI rather comfortably and look on course to secure the series at the Holkar Stadium which usually produces high-scoring games.
Rain in the city has brought the temperature down which will be welcomed by the players from either side after experiencing unusual heat and humidity in Mohali.
The game on Friday had enough positives for India, mainly the performance of Mohammad Shami and Suryakumar Yadav, but few questions still need to be answered ahead of the World Cup, beginning October 5.
India’s designated number 4 Iyer, whose fitness came under the scanner in the Asia Cup even though he was coming back from a long injury-lay off, has not been able to get time in the middle due to different reasons.
While a back spasm ruled him out of the business end of Asia Cup, an avoidable run out on Friday ended his nervy 8-ball stay in the centre.
The right-hander will be hoping for a bagful of runs in the coming two games which would make him and his team feel much better going into the global event.
Ashwin, on the other hand, came up with a tidy bowling effort in his comeback game but was not able to put the Australian batters in much discomfort on a flat track. He was not able to generate much turn and his flatter deliveries were easily negotiated by the opposition.
The champion spinner could still make a last minute entry into India’s World Cup if Axar Patel doesn’t get fit in time but the team management expects more from the 37-year-old than what he managed on Friday. It also remains to be seen if another off-spinner Washington Sundar gets a game. If that happens on Sunday, Ashwin might have to warm the bench.
Shardul Thakur too would be looking for an improvement from the first game, having conceded 78 runs in 10 overs while all the other bowlers returned frugal figures.
He does have a knack of picking wickets and coming up with a useful cameo with the bat but he has not been able to do that consistently in the ODI format.
Thakur will only be used sporadically in the World Cup and therefore, he would be keen to make the most of the chances he gets in the ongoing series.
In the batting department, world’s best T20 batter Suryakumar Yadav seems to have cracked the ODI code after a prolonged lean patch.
The management has told him to consume 45-50 balls every game, which is enough for someone like him to make a telling impact on the match. He just did that on Friday with a well paced half-century.
Like India, Australia too were missing some of their key players in the opener including Mitchell Starc, Glenn Maxwell and Josh Hazlewood. Skipper Pat Cummins hinted after the game in Mohali that they might only be ready by the third game in Rajkot on September 27.
Australia won the series in India earlier this year and find themselves in a must-win situation on Sunday. Josh Inglis showed promise with a run a ball 45 but the middle-order needs to be more consistent.
Veteran opener David Warner has carried his good form from South Africa to India and would be looking to maintain it over the next couple of months.
Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne were guilty of throwing their starts in Mohali and a big hundred will be needed from either of them if Australia are to comeback in the series.
The last ODI was played here in January when India amassed 385 against New Zealand with Rohit and Shubman Gill smashing hundreds.
Rohit will not be around but trust Gill to do an encore in front of a vibrant Indore crowd.
Squads: India: K L Rahul (captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan, Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Prasidh Krishna.
Australia: Pant Cummins (captain), Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Adam Zampa, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Starc, Steve Smith, David Warner, Josh Hazlewood, Spencer Johnson, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tanvir Sangha, Matt Short.
Match starts 1.30 PM IST. PTI BS BS AT AT
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