India eager to hit back at Gabba

Cricket Second ODI : Spotlight on bowlers as visitors attempt to recover from the defeat at Perth

India eager to hit back at Gabba

 Stung by the defeat in the series opener despite putting up a big score, India will have to plug their bowling loopholes when they take on Australia in the second cricket one-dayer here on Friday, fully aware that any slip-up will make their task of bouncing back difficult.

Chasing an imposing 310, Australia romped home by registering a comfotable five-wicket win to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series at Perth on Tuesday.

And at the Gabba on Friday, the visitors would be hoping to make life difficult for Australia but for that to happen Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be expecting a much-improved show from his bowlers.

The five bowlers India played proved to be inadequate at the WACA, particularly the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who had a bad day in office. As such, there is scope for trying out different combinations.

Lanky pacer Ishant Sharma is fit and available for selection. If Dhoni decides to go in with the same combination which he fielded in Perth, Ishant could come in for Bhuvneshwar.
The WACA wicket was slower than expected, but the Gabba pitch is not expected to be similar which provides Dhoni enough reasons to contemplate going in with four pacers.

But the performance of his spin duo would be a concern for Dhoni. Both Ashwin and Jadeja were off-colour in the series opener. While the former gave away 68 runs for two wickets from his nine overs, the latter too was expensive costing 61 runs from as many overs without any success. It will be interesting to see what kind of impact either Ashwin or Jadeja can make.

Consistency is something which Dhoni would look for from bowling attack. To add to it, Dhoni also does not have definitive part-time options to fall back upon.

Young left-arm pacer Barinder Sran, who made his debut in the last match, was the eye-catcher for India in the losing cause in Perth. He picked up three wickets giving away 56 runs and the tall Punjab pacer would be hoping for a repeat performance on Friday.

India’s other two fast bowlers — Bhuvneshwar and Umesh Yadav also failed to make an impression. While Bhuvneshwar was economical Yadav gave away some runs but both failed to trouble the Australian batsmen much. The wicket for Friday’s match should be more to the seamers’ liking, not a green top definitely, but one with ample bounce and pace.

On the batting front, there isn’t much to complain about for India, with Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten 171 and vice- captain Virat Kohli’s 91 helping them to a big score. But one criticism emanating from that loss in Perth was that Rohit and Kohli did not do enough to push the scoring rate towards the end.

There has been considerable talk about the top-three batsmen trying to do a bit more, in terms of strike-rate, especially if one or two of them get going like in Perth.

The Indians would also be wary about the form of Australian skipper Steven Smith. His sequence of scores against the ‘Men In Blue’ across formats now reads: 162 not out, 52 not out, 133, 28, 192, 14, 117, 71, 47, 105, 149.    If the Indians were to win the ongoing five-match ODI series in Australia, the visitor’s will have to find a way to dismiss Smith early.  George Bailey, another centurion for Australia with a 112-run knock in Perth, too would be hoping to carry on his form.

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