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Rain stands between Australia and No. 19

India determined to finish strongly, while host, which might be without Maxwell, don’t want to let the momentum drop

Rain stands between Australia and No. 19 - Cricket News
The Indian team travelled from Canberra to Sydney by road, and on their arrival in the city, they were greeted by rain. Quite apt, considering how the team’s chances in the five-match One-Day International series against Australia have been washed away.

The Australian side also took a bus, but they made stop at Bowral, the hometown of Sir Donald Bradman. Also fitting, because Australia has played like a champion side and shown different facets of its ability while going 4-0 up in the series.

The wet weather could be the only thing that stands between Australia and a clean sweep, with Sydney continuing to experience rainfall on Thursday and Friday, and thunderstorms predicted for the fifth and final ODI against India at Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday (January 23).

The Indians have done a lot of things right in the series, but Australia has done better in the crucial moments of every match. Neither side practiced on the eve of the final ODI, Australia by choice with the players given a day off, and India by force because the wet conditions meant a scheduled training session had to be cancelled.

For India, Ajinkya Rahane, who injured his hand while fielding in Canberra and had to get four stitches, remains an uncertain starter for the final match. If Rahane is unavailable, then there is room to give both Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Manish Pandey another crack.

Among other changes India can consider are bringing R Ashwin back because the SCG has a well-earned reputation as among the most spin-friendly venues in Australia. Axar Patel also hasn’t had a go so far, and with the series already gone, it might not be a bad idea to give him a game – though his inclusion will likely mean a rest for Ravindra Jadeja.

Australia might have to deal with the unavailability of Glenn Maxwell, who hurt his knee in Canberra and is still undergoing treatment for it. It’s likely that Shaun Marsh, who made two fifties stepping in for David Warner, will get another game if Maxwell isn’t up for it.

Not doing well in the key moments has been India’s bane in all four matches, with the batsmen largely doing well in driving the team to totals of beyond, or nearby, 300. The pitches have been flat, but the bowlers have not shone in any contest, while the fielding has been a regular letdown.

To spark a turnaround, India will have to lift itself against an Australian side at the top of its game. Australia’s mental strength and never-say-die spirit was on show in Canberra, pulling off a win in a match that appeared dead and buried with Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan going great guns.

Australia is currently on an 18-match winning streak at home, a world record. It will require something extraordinary from the Indians to prevent that figure going up to 19.

Teams (from)

Australia: Aaron Finch, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Steven Smith (capt), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade (wk), James Faulkner, John Hastings, Kane Richardson, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (capt, wk), Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Barinder Sran, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Axar Patel, Rishi Dhawan.

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