Young Rishabh Pant will strive to seal a slot in the ICC World Cup squad even as India fret about their top-order woes ahead of the fourth ODI against Australia, at the Punjab Cricket Association ground in Mohali on Sunday.
Providing opportunities to all Cup hopefuls would be on Virat Kohli’s mind and the team management is expected to ring in a few changes in the playing XI in the remaining two matches of the series.
As Mahendra Singh Dhoni gets rest for the remaining two ODIs, now Pant has a chance to book his boarding pass for the London-bound flight.
In earlier ODIs, Pant had played purely as batsman but with Dhoni being rested, Pant will get a chance to don the big gloves.
The Indian playing XI will also have Bhuvneshwar Kumar on Sunday as he replaces Mohammed Shami, who was hit on the leg in his follow through during the third match.
Shami completed his spell but since he will be sharing the new ball with Jasprit Bumrah in England, it is natural to give him precautionary rest.
“We will have a few changes in the next couple of games but the idea is to tell the boys to put in match-winning performances and the boys will be looking to be in top form before the flight to England,” Kohli said after the third ODI.
However, what will keep the Indian team worried is the batting form of the top-order, save skipper Kohli, who has been lock, stock and barrel above everyone in his team.
Kohli has 283 runs in three games with two hundreds and the next best in the Indian team is Kedar Jadhav with 118 runs.
Rohit Sharma is undergoing a rare slump in ODIs, having scored only 51 runs in three innings. Even worse is Ambati Rayudu’s performance at No 4 with aggregate of 33 runs in three games.
Shikhar Dhawan’s struggles are well-documented and he has scored only 22 runs in three games. Dhawan and Rayudu’s form should be a cause of concern even though both are certainties as far as place in the World Cup squad is concerned.
There are certain problems in both Dhawan and Rayudu’s games but they won’t get adequate time to correct those follies with just two games to be played in five days and the cash-rich IPL to follow soon.
Bangar however considers that the shortest of gaps between two games on Friday and Sunday to be a blessing in disguise.
“At times, actually it’s good that there is a very small turnaround between matches because if there are too many gaps, then players have that much more time to think. The best for any player is to get back into action and give it another shot. In fact I’m very pleased that the next game is starting Sunday,” Bangar said.
While Kohli is not a great advocate of wholesale changes, KL Rahul is also expected to get a look-in but it is not clear who would he replace – Dhawan or Rayudu.
India will be worried about Aussie leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who despite conceding lot of runs, has managed to get Kohli and Dhoni on multiple occasions. There will also be a bit of a concern about the India’s new ball attack. In spite of two of the best in the business, Jaspreet Bumrah and Mohd Shami operating in tandem, India had struggled for a breakthrough in the Ranchi ODI on Thursday.
“That’s the sign of a good player. You’re not at your best, not having your best day and still taking those important wickets. Batsmen pride themselves on the same thing – when you don’t feel like you are hitting the ball well, you try to get runs on those days,” Usman Khawaja said.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rishabh Pant (wk).
Australia: Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Alex Carey, Nathan Lyon, Jason Behrendorff.
Star Sports will broadcast the match in five languages – English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada – on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD, Star Sports 1 Hindi and Star Sports 1 Hindi HD, Star Sports Tamil, Star Sports Telugu, and Star Sports Kannada.
The match will also be streamed live on Star’s OTT platform Hotstar.
The match at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali, Chandigarh will start at 1:30 pm.