Rampant India eye rare ODI clean sweep against struggling Australia

PTI, Sep 26, 2023, 11:56 AM IST

Credit: BCCI

Rajkot: Skipper Rohit Sharma would fancy a perfect culmination to Indian team’s World Cup preparations as hosts eye a rare clean sweep of Australia in the third and final ODI here on Wednesday.

Never before in history have India whitewashed Australia in the ODI format. In fact, neither of them have achieved such a result, home or away, irrespective of the number of matches played in a series.

Given how perfectly everything has panned out for the World Cup hosts in the lead up to the mega tournament, it would only be fitting that India finish with a deserving 3-0 score-line.

Dominant Indian team, despite the absence of its front-line players and still tinkering with playing combinations to make sure every member has had game-time under their belt, are in pole position to record a fourth consecutive ODI win before the quadrennial event begins.

If they manage to clinch a 3-0 win, India would also have taken a massive upper-hand over the five-time world champions Australia before the two teams meet again in Chennai on October 8 for their World Cup opener.

It will be no exaggeration in saying India have battered Australia in the first two ODIs despite both the rivals making plenty of changes to keep their top guns fresh, while also putting miles in the legs of those who would not usually feature in first-choice XIs.

There could, however, be some respite for the Australian bowlers as India have rested their young gun Shubman Gill for the final ODI after his 74 and 104 in the first two games, alongwith Shardul Thakur.

In the 50-overs World Cup year, Gill is the only batter in the format with a thousand runs and counting — 1,230 runs to be precise at a staggering average of 72.35 — and his absence from the final game would certainly be felt.

But India’s batting mainstays Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are expected to return and so are the in-form Kuldeep Yadav and Hardik Pandya from a brief resting period during which KL Rahul has led admirably.

Facing some tough questions over squad composition, players’ form, fitness and availability, India have turned the tide and how. That India would end up with a problem of plenty was something not envisaged when the team embarked on the Asia Cup campaign just a few weeks ago.

But the likes of Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Mohammed Shami and even Mohammed Siraj have transformed this Indian outfit into as formidable a unit can get. He took some time to get going and again struggled with his back-related troubles, but Shreyas Iyer utilised perfect batting conditions in Indore to record a century, which will also consolidate his position in the middle-order.

Much to the delight of the Indian camp, Rahul has delivered the goods with the bat and behind the stumps at the most appropriate time. Like Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah too has proven his fitness and form in a few matches after a long injury lay-off. After resting from the second ODI, India’s premier bowler is available for selection.

Even though the team management appears tilted in favour of injured Axar Patel, oldest member of the Indian squad Ravichandran Ashwin would like to make this opportunity count before the contingent is finalised for the World Cup.

For Australia, it is not often that they flop both with the bat and the ball in India with the white ball as miserably as they have in the first two ODIs. The visitors need to gather themselves as the wheels seem to be coming off rapidly following five consecutive defeats in ODIs.

A few months ago, the same side beat India 2-1 with Mitchell Starc haunting the Indian right-handers with his perfect in-swingers.

With one last game left before the World Cup begins, Australia would be tempted to play their preferred bowling attack with Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc coming in, even though the batting lacks the firepower of Travis Head at the top and Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne not enjoying a successful year of cricket in India across formats.


India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya, Virat Kohli, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Washington Sundar.

Australia: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Alex Carey (wk), Josh Inglis (wk), Matthew Short, Sean Abbott, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tanveer Sangha, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa. Time: 1:30pm IST.

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