Saturday, October 19, 2013
Start time 1330 local (0800 GMT)
The metamorphosis of the Jaipur pitch from a good all-round one just a few weeks ago to a fertile 721-run farmland on which the batsmen committed cricketing debauchery made it clear that an ODI series in India has no place for bowlers. Mohali is likely to be another batting paradise with the curator, Daljit Singh, already saying that the good bounce and carry – read: hit through the line – that the pitch afforded during the Champions League matches was a “dress-rehearsal” for the ODI. The grass on the outfield has been given a neat crop too, meaning R Ashwin and Glenn Maxwell will have more or less an equal chance of chasing down the ball.
The pitch in Jaipur was called a “beauty” by a television commentator inciting a quizzical response from the Australia captain. “You reckon that was a beauty?” George Bailey asked with a wry smile, after he had seen his bowlers plundered for a fortune and just getting a wicket in return. Two days after that onslaught in Jaipur, Bailey’s scars were still fresh. “It’s hard to know what motivates bowlers on these wickets,” he said. “I think I would like to see a little bit more help for the bowlers if they bend their backs and a little bit for the spinners.” The fast bowlers did derive some help in Pune, but maybe that was just an outlier.
India wouldn’t complain with another flat pitch as it neatly neutralises Australia’s bowling advantage. Their top order took full toll of the favourable conditions in Jaipur and crafted a win out of what had been a shoddy bowling performance from India’s bowlers. Ishant Sharma and Vinay Kumar’s inability to stick to a plan was there for everyone to see, and so was R Ashwin’s habit of doling out a long hop every over. Australia’s bowlers were taken for runs off good deliveries, but the Indian bowlers, they were rightly punished for their indiscipline. In the end, you can only take six runs for a big hit, and that upper limit saved the Indian bowlers from not looking any worse than their Australian counterparts.
From Australia’s perspective, their batting has made the most of a weak bowling attack and put up 300-plus totals twice already. Add to that the 200 they scored in the T20, and it suggests they could be equally potent in a bat-out. What they need is a sprinkling of grass – there was some on the Mohali pitch on the eve of the match, but will it survive the next 24 hours?
Australia LWWLW (most recent games first)
In the spotlight
It was in Mohali against Australia that Shikhar Dhawan’s world changed in a matter of four hours. Since setting foot on the ground that day in March, Dhawan has amassed 1028 runs in international cricket – Tests, ODIs, and T20Is – at an average of 60.47 and a strike rate of 97.90, becoming a vital cog in India’s line-up. The number of centuries he has hit this year would have gone to five had he scored five more runs in Jaipur, but he did set up the chase that night. The best part about Dhawan’s batting is that he has no apparent weaknesses – he plays the fast-bowlers well, he uses his feet against spinners, plays sweeps and the reverse, he runs well between the wickets, and he scores at a fast clip without taking any risks.
Aaron Finch has assumed a similar role to Dhawan’s for Australia in limited-overs matches. He has now three half-centuries in a row on this tour, but it’s the manner in which he has collected his runs which is impressive. He has tended to be patient early in the innings, leaving a number of deliveries, but with muscular hitting through off side and down the ground, he has quickly made up for the slow starts. Australia will look forward to another one of those starts in Mohali.
After the battering India’s bowlers received in Jaipur, MS Dhoni might be inclined to make at least one change in Mohali before the team for the next four matches is announced. Ishant Sharma and Vinay Kumar have leaked runs at almost the same rate – 7.87 and 7.83 respectively – and one or both could be forced out. However, with Dhoni’s tendency to stick to the same XI, it could be still be a long wait for Jaydev Unadkat and Mohammed Shami.
India (probable) 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 and 11 Vinay Kumar/Ishant Sharma/Mohammed Shami/Jaydev Unadkat
Australia’s batting has been an efficient machinery and, despite the bowling’s collective failure in Jaipur, they are likely to keep the XI.
Australia (probable) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Phillip Hughes, 3 Shane Watson, 4 George Bailey (capt), 5 Adam Voges, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Xavier Doherty
Stats and trivia
No Indian batsman has yet scored a century in ODIs in Mohali. In 12 matches, India has played at the ground, Sachin Tendulkar’s 99 against Pakistan in 2007 remains the highest score
There have been five instances of teams scoring more than 300 batting first in Mohali – South Africa’s 351 being the highest – and only once has the team lost from that position. In the same match where Tendulkar scored 99, Pakistan chased down the 322-run target
Australia have played three ODIs against India in Mohali and they have won two of them. Overall, Australia have won four out of five matches in Mohali
“There might be a little bit more life here than at the Jaipur wicket. The boundaries are a little bit bigger as well, so … I haven’t looked at the past scores or anything, so I don’t know what to expect.”
George Bailey looks for a silver lining
“I guess the boys were trying bouncers, trying to surprise the opponents with short balls and were trying different things to upset them.”
Shikhar Dhawan on Ishant Sharma and Vinay Kumar’s tactics in Jaipur