India hoping batsmen fire again in Australia series-decider
The seventh and last One-Day International of the Australia series promises to be another high-scoring thriller.
Since even a total of 350 cannot be considered healthy, Saturday's match, on a traditionally batting-friendly wicket at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore, is likely to be another run-riot.
India will yet again rely on their batting firepower as they seek to clinch the One-day series, which is tied at 2-2.
After two successive wash-outs in Ranchi and Cuttak, India chased down a mammoth 351-run target in the sixth ODI in Nagpur to level the series.
The incredible run-chase brought back memories of India's magnificent victory in Jaipur, when they chased down a stiff target of 360, achieving the second highest successful chase ever in ODI history.
The bowlers of both the sides are under tremendous pressure on the flat batting tracks offer so far. Despite the two wash-outs, over 2500 runs have already been scored.
Image: MS Dhoni (left) with Suresh Raina
Photographs: Graham Crouch/Getty Images
Brilliant batting by Dhawan, Kohli
The Indians, however, should find the going a bit easier on the morrow, as an equally-determined Australia's pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson will not be playing, having returned home to prepare for the Ashes.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be hoping that his young teammates can maintain the tempo. Among his batsmen, leading scorers Virat Kohli and opener Shikhar Dhawan have batted brilliantly, while Rohit Sharma too was instrumental in giving the team good starts in big partnerships with Dhawan.
Dhoni, who has been solid in the middle-order, will be looking to repeat the performance in Mohali, where he scored a brilliant century to help India recover and post a challenging 300-plus total which was successfully chased down by the visitors.
Image: Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli
Raina, Yuvraj need to come good
The worry for India is the middle-order, where Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh are yet to come up with an innings of substance in the series. Saturday is time for the two to make up for the earlier failures.
They have struggled against the pace and bounce extracted by the Australian bowlers, especially Johnson.
Dhoni has the option of bringing in Ambati Rayadu, but the Indian think-tank may not want to tinker with the combination.
Image: Suresh Raina and Ms Dhoni
Photographs: Graham Crouch/Getty Images
Blowers have been expensive
On the bowling front, the Indian bowlers' economy rate has gone for a toss in batting-friendly conditions. Off-spinner R Ashwin, who grabbed 29 wickets in the four-Test series against Australia in February-March, has taken heavy punishment from the in-form Australian batsmen, especially skipper George Bailey.
Leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who played his first game at Nagpur, gave away 78 runs in 10 overs without taking a wicket.
India's pace battery, comprising Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jaydev Unadkat and R Vinay Kumar, has also been expensive.
Dhoni has the option of using part-timers like Yuvraj and Raina to bowl middle overs, but the field restrictions under the new ODI rules have made it difficult for him to hand the bowl to them.
It remains to be seen whether Ishant Sharma will be given another chance to redeem his poor display in the series after being hammered for 30 runs in the 'death' over at Mohali.
Image: Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Bailey has tormented the Indians
Australia too have batted well. Bailey is the top run-getter in the series, while Shane Watson came out all guns blazing by scoring a century in the last match.
Bailey reckons his team has enough quality to clinch the series third time in a row.
The the visitors, like India, have plenty to worry about, with their bowling not living up to expectations.
Nevertheless, their speedsters have exposed some chinks in the Indian armoury with their short-ball attack.
It should come down to bowlers' making less mistakes. Whichever team does that better, should walk away with the series.
A series-win will boost the Australians ahead of the home Ashes series against England, starting later this month.
India: M S Dhoni (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Amit Mishra, Jaydev Unadkat and Mohammed Shami.
Australia: George Bailey (Captain), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Callum Ferguson, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Moises Henriques, Phil Hughes, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Adam Voges and Shane Watson.
Match starts at: 1:30 PM (IST)
Image: George Bailey and Shane Watson