India have batting woes to address

There is rarely a dull moment in an India Australia series. And the current one has lived up to the expectations, too. India fought back despite wobbles to take a 2-0 lead. Australia pulled themselves back from the brink. Arriving in the northern part of the country, the series holds out the promise of pulsating action to thousands set to throng the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium.

India have their focus on the World Cup, scheduled to start in May, and going into the fourth ODI here, they have already sounded the bell about making changes in the squad. The hosts will be frustrated to not seal the series at Ranchi. If at all, it has opened a sliver of hope for the belligerent Australians, who have been competitive even in defeats.

For India, the batting has appeared a bit flaky. The top-order has not fired in the series with the exception of Virat Kohli, who is simply in a league of his own. The Indian captain has left the world in disbelief with his batting finesse and is fast motoring towards an unparalleled legacy. With both openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma not among runs, and even No 4 Ambati Rayudu lacking lustre, it is Kohli who has held the batting together.

With India eager to test all the probables before the World Cup, there is a possibility of K L Rahul getting a look in on Sunday. MS Dhoni, rested for the remainder of the series, will be replaced by Rishabh Pant, who now has an opportunity to seal a place in the World Cup squad.

In the bowling, the best bowler in the format, Jasprit Bumrah, has stamped his class. Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, too, has impressed with his consistency. Bhuvneshwar Kumar can return to the mix after Mohammed Shami was hit on the leg during the third match. India will be hoping the change will work for them, keeping in mind their struggles to separate the Australian opening pair in the last two games.

For Australia, captain Aaron Finch showed signs of revival in the last two games. The fierce opener has been right on the mark in Ranchi and will be keen to shepherd his side to level the series here. Usman Khawaja has inspired confidence and Glenn Maxwell at No 3 has been solid. It is the fickle middle-order which has let the Australians down.

However, their bowling has firepower. Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa, in particular, have impressed and are tied second among leading wicket-takers in the series. The two will have to play crucial roles if Australia wish to stretch the series to New Delhi.

The forecast for Mohali shows clear skies on Sunday. The surface at the PCA stadium has favoured batting and witnessed high scores in the last few years. The dew can play a big role in the contest.

India will not like to concede any room at PCA, where they have a good record. They will be determined to win big. Australia, having tasted victory, will not hold back either. By all means, this is the contest to watch.

 

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