The rubber may be dead, but interest isn’t. The final ODI between India and Australia on Wednesday promises plenty.
Captain Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav are scheduled to play for the first time in the series. That the host is leading the three-match series 2-0 without any of those five featuring in either of the games indicates the kind of shape the team is in.
Rohit played it down, but the Men in Blue may not mind subjecting Australia to a rare whitewash on what could be another excellent batting track. Of the three matches played at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium before, two of them saw both teams scoring in excess of 300.
For this match, India has rested its — and the world’s — most prolific scorer of the year. The return of Rohit and Kohli should ensure that Shubman Gill would not be missed too much at the top of the order.
The skipper, however, revealed that only 13 players were available for the game, as some have fallen sick. Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur and Hardik Pandya aren’t here. Neither is Axar Patel, still recovering from injury.
As for Australia, it should be pleased that Mitchell Starc is raring to go after missing out the South Africa tour and the first two games here. The left-arm quick was, in fact, one of the architects of Australia’s 2-1 victory against India in the ODI series earlier this year. Glenn Maxwell is also likely to make a comeback.
Starc’s return should bring some relief to Australia, whose bowling at the death of late may be a cause of concern for the team management, especially with not much time left before the World Cup kicks off.
He too should be looking forward to bowling in tandem with skipper Pat Cummins. Their contests with the likes of Rohit, Kohli and K.L. Rahul would be interesting.
The Aussies will be keen to avoid a sixth defeat in a row as well as a first-ever whitewash by India. Before arriving in India, they had lost the last three matches of their series in South Africa, that too after going 2-0 up.
India, on the other hand, has been on a great run. After winning the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, the team has played some fine cricket in the last couple of games, the absence of some of its biggest stars notwithstanding. And those stars too would want to shine in their last ODI before the big event.
The teams (from):
India: Rohit Sharma (Capt.), Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, K.L. Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar and Mohammed Shami.
Australia: Pat Cummins (Capt.), David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Josh Inglis, Alex Carey, Marcus Stoinis, Cameron Green, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Short, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood, Sean Abbott and Tanveer Sangha.
The match starts at 1.30 p.m.