Not let-up in rain, Cuttack ODI set to be called off
Saturday's fifth one-day International between India and Australia in Cuttack is likely to be called off as there is no let up from rain that has lashed the city since the last five days.
"We don't have the right to call the match off officially. But we have already announced the dates for ticket refund, which obviously means the match has been officially abandoned," OCA secretary Asirbad Behera said on Friday evening.
The previous ODI of the ongoing series in Ranchi was also abandoned after 4.1 overs as India chased Australia’s total of 296.
Australia lead the series 2-2.
Umpires Nigel Llong from ECB and S Ravi of India along with Match Referee Roshan Mahanama from SLC will take a call on Saturday, at 1100 IST.
"It's likely that the players won't turn up tomorrow and only the officials will come to make the announcement," added Behera.
The OCA secretary has also spoken with Board of Control for Cricket in India president N Srinivasan and asked him to shift the three-day practice match between the touring West Indies and Uttar Pradesh CA from October 31 to Mumbai.
"The team is scheduled to arrive on October 29 and, looking at the ground condition, it's impossible to make it ready in time. I spoke to the president and put forward an official request to shift the practice match," said Behera.
The OCA, which is hosting an International match after two years, is set to lose about Rs 3 crore, Behera said.
"We are hopeful of recovering it through insurance."
OCA paid a sum of RS 3 lakh to insure ground and properties of the Barabati Stadium for a whopping sum of Rs 20 crore.
Image: Workers collect water during the 4th ODI in Ranchi, which was abandoned due to rain. The 5th ODI in Cuttack, scheduled for Saturday, is set to face the same fate
Shami Ahmed proving to be a good find for India
After being thrashed 0-4 by India in the Test series earlier this year, Australia have come back strongly in the ongoing ODIs and their batsmen have shown they are not intimidated by big totals.
India's wayward bowling and fielding has only helped the visitors' cause.
After India's resounding victory chasing down 360 by nine wickets, the home side while defending a stiff 304 was severely let down by a disastrous 30-run 48th over by Ishant Sharma in Mohali, something that has become the talking point of the series.
The lanky pacer was omitted along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and replacement Shami Ahmed showed fine promise bowling consistently around the 140kph mark extracting excellent swing and recording a career-best 3/42 haul in Ranchi.
It was for the first time in the series that the dangerous Aussie top-order was troubled by pace as Shami's fine in-swing castled Aaron Finch and Shane Watson.
The performance would certainly guarantee Shami a place in the remaining matches of the series but other bowlers' performance is something to ponder about.
Left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat, the second replacement in the fourth ODI, hardly troubled the Aussies with his slow pace but an economical Bhuvneshwar should be a better ploy in the pace attack.
Image: Shami Ahmed celebrates a wicket
Virat Kohli enjoying great form
Among the spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin's profligacy is also something to worry about.
In Amit Mishra, India have a better option but going by the selection it seems a wrist leg-spinner is the last preference for captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Vinay Kumar has been costly but the medium pacer, who denied George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell centuries in two crucial wickets in Ranchi, would definitely have something in his favour.
Another thing that would be on Dhoni's mind is the poor catching in Ranchi where the butter-finger Indian fielders dropped as many as six including two each of Bailey and Maxwell.
As for the batsmen, the new ODI rules are helping them revel on flat Indian pitches, making a mockery of the bowlers.
Three Indian batsmen have posted centuries including the off-colour Rohit Sharma, while Virat Kohli is in ominous form with two half-centuries and a hundred to be the leading rungetter with 229 runs (at an average of 109.04).
The batting looks more or less balanced even even though Yuvraj Singh has been silent after his fiery 77 not out in the T20I in Rajkot.
Image: Virat Kohli
Bailey highest run-getter in the series for Aus
The Aussies, on the other hand, would be wary of Shami's bowling as was admitted by their skipper Bailey after the washed-out ODI in Ranchi.
"Obviously Shami bowled very well. He's someone we haven't seen in the series and he was a little bit quicker than what we expected. That's something to be pretty aware of for the rest of the series," Bailey had said in Ranchi.
Bailey has led by example for far being the highest run-getter (318) as an Aussie captain in a bilateral series. He is also the leading scorer in the series averaging 106.
And in bowling they boast of a fiery pace attack with Mitchell Johnson touching the 150kph mark but would look to improve in the spin department with Xavier Doherty being the only option.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c and wk), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, R Vinay Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Jaydev Unadkat, Ambati Rayudu, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Australia: George Bailey (c), Phillip Hughes, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Adam Voges, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin (wk), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Callum Ferguson and Moises Henriques.
Match Starts: 1.30 pm IST.
Image: George Bailey