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India looks to bowlers to help it draw level against Australia

With Warner unavailable and Ishant fit again, changes expected to both teams for second ODI in Brisbane

India looks to bowlers to help it draw level against Australia  
 - Cricket News
The Gabba in Brisbane has traditionally been the other fast bowlers’ haven Down Under, but as at WACA, both teams are expecting a run-fest on a flat deck here too.
After a cool Perth, the India-Australia series moves to Brisbane, where it has been scorching, for the second One-Day International of the five-match series on Friday (January 15).

Australia’s successful chase of a daunting 309 for 3 at the WACA has given it the early lead in the series, but if the first ODI showed anything, it was that India wouldn’t simply roll over and hand the series to the world champion on a platter. While Australia’s chase was helmed expertly by Steve Smith and George Bailey, the centurions, the match still went to the last over – though it must be said the home side always looked ahead of the game once Smith and Bailey had gone past their fifties.

“There were a lot of positives from the first ODI,” shared Rohit Sharma, who hit 171 not out. “Scoring 300 runs in Perth was good, though losing the game was not such a positive sign. We did pretty much what we could have. Australia created a very good partnership and after that we were not able to get back into the game. They batted really well. There were a lot of positives in our batting, but we still need to work well in our bowling and get those breakthroughs whenever there is a big partnership going on.”

The Gabba in Brisbane has traditionally been the other fast bowlers’ haven Down Under, but as at WACA, both teams are expecting a run-fest on a flat deck here too.

James Faulkner said on Thursday: “I think, any time over 300 runs are being scored and chased, it's definitely a flat wicket. I'm expecting the same sort of scenario here as well. I haven't seen an ODI wicket that hasn't been flat here for a fair while. It should have good pace and carry and should be a good contest again.”

The only guaranteed changes will be in the XI Australia puts out for the second match. Mitchell Marsh has been given some rest to manage his workload with John Hastings taking his place. David Warner is away on paternity leave, and in fact welcomed a second daughter on Thursday morning with wife Candice, with the little one christened Indi Rae. Warner will only rejoin the squad for the fourth ODI in Canberra. In Warner’s place, Usman Khawaja has been called up, but barring an injury, it is unlikely he will feature in the XI, with Shaun Marsh already in the squad as a readymade replacement for Warner. There shouldn’t be any other changes to the batting line-up, with the Australians remaining a formidable force even without Warner.

The bowling could feature some changes. Scott Boland and Joel Paris didn’t have great debuts in Perth, though it would be harsh to jettison them after just one match. Kane Richardson is waiting in the wings, as is the newly arrived Hastings, and one option Australia could explore is giving Josh Hazlewood a rest. Hazlewood has been in fine fettle, but has also bowled plenty during the summer and has already spoken about it being unlikely he will feature in all matches of this India series. Including Hastings, who is no mug with the bat, would be a category-for-category replacement with Mitchell Marsh missing.

India also faces something of a dilemma in selection. The spinners – for long MS Dhoni’s go-to men for control – seemed ineffective at WACA and, traditionally, the Gabba hasn’t offered much help to their ilk either. India will bank on R Ashwin turning things around quickly given the splendid form the top-ranked ICC Test bowler has shown over the past season. The advantage with Ashwin is that even if the track is not helping, he can keep things quiet from his end when all is in sync.

Ravindra Jadeja had a long session in the nets, batting and bowling, but if the surface is judged to be pace-friendly, the team management could well debate the merits of having a paceman play instead of the left-arm spinner. Ishant Sharma has recovered fully from his finger bruise and is available for selection. Ishant worked up impressive pace in the nets, and if Dhoni and Co. want to continue with Jadeja in the XI, the most likely candidate to make way could be Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Barinder Sran’s three-wicket haul on debut was a bright spot in Perth, but what Dhoni and India need is control and a few wickets in the middle overs. “Our morale is very good because we played very good cricket and we know that,” reflected Rohit. “The only thing is, we need to learn how to take wickets in the middle, how to build pressure in the middle overs. Whether it’s fast bowlers or spinner operating in the middle overs, we need to make a habit of making breakthrough. If wickets fall in the middle, then it affects the momentum of the opposition team. That is what we need to do this game, because we batted well, we bowled well with the new ball, but were halted in the middle because we didn’t take wickets.” 

India’s batting will, in all probability, not see any changes, with Manish Pandey the preferred option at No.6. Neither Pandey nor Ajinkya Rahane were even required to bat in Perth, and though the team might hope for the same in Brisbane, it will also want to see how Pandey handles the big stage at some point. But of more importance, as the first ODI showed, is the bowlers backing up the batsmen.

Australia: Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Steve Smith (capt), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade (wk), James Faulkner, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Joel Paris, Kane Richardson, Usman Khawaja. 

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


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