After two hard-fought wins for India to start off the series, the Aussies bounced back strongly to win the third ODI at Ranchi by 32 runs.
We take a look at the key talking points heading into the Mohali clash.
CONFIDENT TOURISTS AIM TO PULL LEVEL
No one really gave Australia any chance prior to the series with Aaron Finch and his men arriving in India on the back of a horrendous run in the ODI format which has been ongoing since the turn of 2017.
Despite still reeling from the absence of the suspended David Warner and Steve Smith, the tourists have given Virat Kohli’s men a run for their money in the three games so far. They were in control at various stages of the first and second ODIs before being pipped to the finish line but have opened their account in the series with a commanding win at Ranchi.
The bowling has been largely excellent in all three clashes while the batting has been getting better with each passing game. With Finch now back in form and Usman Khawaja striking his maiden ODI ton, the Aussies will come hard at the Indians in the final two clashes as they look to keep their hopes of a first bilateral series win in the format since their 2-0 win in New Zealand in February, 2017 alive.
CHANGES GALORE EXPECTED FOR MEN IN BLUE
While there is still all to play for in the series, Kohli has promised to ring in the changes for the last two matches. Veteran wicketkeeper MS Dhoni has been handed a rest for the remainder of the series and this should see young Rishabh Pant take the gloves for the fourth and fifth ODIs.
Pant will be desperate to seize what will be his final chance to stake a claim for a World Cup squad berth. He won’t be the only man to get an opportunity in Sunday’s clash with KL Rahul also expected to get his chance. The top-order batsman was in fine flow in the preceding T20 series and could take his place at number four in the batting order instead of Ambati Rayudu who has failed to fire in all three clashes so far.
Another change that will most likely happen is Bhuvneshwar Kumar coming into the playing XI. The seamer was all set to play in the third ODI before a late change of plans saw him sit out. While Bhuvneshwar should come in, Kohli will also be tempted to throw on Yuzvendra Chahal after making the wrist-spinner sit out the first three ODIs.
SPOTLIGHT ON UNDER-FIRE INDIA OPENERS
While Kohli has stamped his authority in the series with two excellent tons, the same cannot be said for the rest of India’s top-order who have struggled big time. India’s openers have been dismissed early in all three clashes and this has seen the pressure increase tremendously on Kohli and the middle-order batsman.
Both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have bagged a duck each while their displays in the other innings have been nothing to write home about. Dhawan, especially, has looked extremely scratchy and was completely out of touch at Ranchi before departing for just one from 10 deliveries.
It would not be a surprise to see Kohli make a change at the top itself on Sunday with Rahul having the ability to play as an opener. However, the India skipper will want his main men to get themselves into some sort of form ahead of the World Cup and as such, the pressure will be on Rohit and Dhawan to deliver at Mohali.
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