Indore: After overpowering Australia in the opening two games, a dominant India will aim to pocket the five-match One Day International (ODI) series when they face the Kangaroos in the third game at the Holkar Stadium here on Sunday.
On a 10-match overseas losing streak, the Steve Smith-led side will have their task cut out and face a must-win situation to have a chance at the trophy.
On the other hand, India are currently on an eight-match winning run, and hold an upper hand at Indore, where the Men-in-Blue have a 100 per cent winning record (having won all four of their matches so far).
Surprisingly the credit of No.1-ranked India’s success in the ongoing series goes more to the bowlers, who have managed to defend scores of 164 (revised target in 21 overs) and 252 in the first two matches.
India’s new-found spin-twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have racked up 10 wickets together in the series so far and will once again be skipper Virat Kohli’s go-to men in the middle overs.
Australia have found it hard to solve the mystery around chinaman Kuldeep, who on Thursday became the first Indian spinner to claim a hat-trick in 50-overs cricket.
Not only the spinners, the pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have also been impressive at both the start and in the death overs. Coming in as first change, India have got the perfect all-round option in Pandya, who also has done his part with the ball.
India’s only area of concern is the middle order batting, where Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey have failed to fire and the onus once again falls on the likes of Kohli, who blasted a 107-ball 92 in the second game at the Eden Gardens alongside the other half-centurion Ajinkya Rahane.
Rahane’s opening partner Rohit Sharma is also due for runs but the saving grace has been the brilliant form of the lower middle order comprising stumper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Hardik Pandya.
On the other hand, Australia will need to pull up their socks in the batting department, which lacked spark in the first two matches.
The over-dependence on Smith and opener David Warner has also been a cause of worry for the tourists.
Australia can, however, draw a lot of positives from the performance of their fast bowlers — Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins. But the form of leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who has managed to pick just two wickets so far, will hurt the Aussies.
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (WK), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami.
Australia: David Warner, Steven Smith (Captain), Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Matthew Wade (WK), Pat Cummins, Travis Head, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, Peter Handscomb, Aaron Finch.