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India looks to turn fortunes around

Ashwin likely to return to playing XI; Warner, Lyon set to boost Australian resources at Manuka Oval

India looks to turn fortunes around - Cricket News
Kane Richardson celebrates after dismissing Rohit Sharma.
In the middle of the 20th century, fairground stalls in the United States of America gave out cigars as prizes to patrons who were successful at any one of several games to be played. If you missed by a narrow margin, it was ‘close, but no cigar’.
 
India felt the cigar finally coming within reach in the third One-Day International in Melbourne. Some might have taken a few imaginary puffs. And then India’s chances went up in smoke, the bowlers and fielders obligingly providing the gift-wrapping to Glenn Maxwell’s iron-bound purpose as yet another ODI series was lost.
 
It was easy to imagine MS Dhoni as a cigar-chomping cowboy who was quicker on the draw than any opponent, but found that his gun had been loaded with fake bullets. On the field, Dhoni did everything in his power to keep the series alive before it headed to the Manuka Oval in Canberra, the venue of the fourth ODI on Wednesday (January 20). He had asked the batsmen to deliver more runs, given them the license to end with 280 while trying for 330. He came out and whacked 23 off nine balls. He seemed to have given up on the bowlers winning matches without assistance – he manufactured two dismissals.
 
But the script of the series remained unalterable. A top-order Indian batsman hit a century. There were a couple of handy contributions by others, no more. And Australia found a way to chase the total down.
 


A series whitewash looms, unless India can reverse fortunes in Canberra. India had left R Ashwin out of the previous match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but the offspinner might not remain on the bench for this match. He spent a good chunk of the nets session on match eve with either ball or bat in hand. The pitch at the Manuka Oval is not expected to vary too much from what has been on offer through the series, but locals reckon the outfield is even bigger than the MCG, although of course there is no comparing the number of people each ground can hold, with the Manuka Oval’s capacity at only about 12,000.
 
“He is a seasoned campaigner. He is one of the best bowlers in the world,” said Ravi Shastri, the team director, on Ashwin. “He has done fabulously well for us. Conditions demand where we needed to look at other options. Ashwin is absolutely fine. For all you know, he might play the next game.”
 
India will have to strike a balance between playing the best XI to salvage a win, and giving a go to some of the youngsters since the series is lost anyway, and a match against a high-intensity Australian side will speed up development.
 
Australia might also face that quandary, but two people almost certain to play are David Warner and Nathan Lyon. Warner returns from paternity leave, while Lyon’s addition lends balance to a pace-dominated attack. Warner coming back could mean Shaun Marsh, who replaced him for two ODIs and got 50s in both, will have to make way in spite of being in excellent form.
 
“Obviously, the dimensions of the ground are a little bit bigger than most grounds,” said Warner. “Coming from the MCG, there is short straight. Here's, it's pretty big all around and the wind plays a big factor here. You've got to target which boundaries you want to go to.”
 
Warner felt that the tracks for four-day cricket on this ground have offered more turn than the ones for white-ball cricket, and while he had admiration for India’s batting, he was confident Australia had the depth to continue their winning run.
 


“I think when we've played one-day cricket here in the past, it hasn't spun as much as during some of the four-day games played here,” he said. “The Indian top-order is playing great cricket, they're playing fantastic. Rohit (Sharma) is in probably in the form of his career. He's a very good white-ball player. Virat Kohli, obviously, is a very good player. He sort of is the rock in the middle. Then you've got Jinks (Ajinkya Rahane), who comes in and he's capable of playing those big shots. Credit to him, he's worked hard in the last 12 months. I've seen him evolve through the IPL and trying to rotate the strike and clear the ropes. That's fantastic from an Indian point of view. But at the end of the day, so far, 300 hasn't been enough. We have to keep being on top of our game to chase down the good totals that India are posting.” 
 
Asked where India was going wrong, Warner cheekily said he shouldn’t be relaying messages to the Indian camp that could help them. “I'm hoping that MS can relay that message to his own team. I'm not going to relay that message,” he smiled. “At the end of the day, as I said, we've got to keep chasing or defending what we can. I don't have the answer, as we're playing great cricket. As everyone's saying, 300 is now the new 250. We've seen totals of 350 in India being chased down as well. I'm not too sure, to be honest.”
 
Given how targets of 300 have been chased down, it all comes back to what Dhoni had asked of his batsmen after losing the second ODI – more runs if batting first and the belief to chase down any total if batting second. If that doesn’t happen, and India travels to Sydney for the final ODI 0-4 down, it will become doubly difficult for a down-on-its-luck team to avoid a whitewash.
 
Teams (from):
 
Australia: Aaron Finch, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Steve 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.