Australia have a chance to win an ODI series in India after 10 years ahead of the final game in New Delhi. (Image credit: Twitter)
The Delhi ODI between India and Australia is massive when it comes to the psychological edge the result will provide to both the teams. A win for Australia will not only be historic and a shot in the arm for a side that has struggled since 2017, it will give them the belief that they can do well in the ICC Cricket World Cup. A loss for India will suddenly stall their momentum, raise questions on team composition and the ability to read conditions along with other question marks related to confidence and ability of some players. Before the start of this series, Virat Kohli had remarked, “Frame of mind is the most important thing getting into the World Cup, and we need 15 people who are confident and mentally happy about where their game is at that particular moment.” A win at the Feroz Shah Kotla will reignite the confidence of Virat Kohli's side but they have work to do on certain key areas.
In the Mohali ODI, Kohli would have been relieved that Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma got some form back. The duo stitched a brilliant 193-run stand and Dhawan went on to make 142. In previous ICC tournaments, the form of Dhawan and Rohit at the top gave India the extra edge and thankfully both delivered. There are still some questions on the middle order, having moderately failed to capitalise on the start provided by Dhawan and Rohit. However, one thing is confirmed. The team missed the calmness of MS Dhoni, be it in the batting or on the field in Mohali.
For Australia, their middle order looks in great touch and a repeat of their performances will give them a great chance yet again. Usman Khawaja has been brilliant with 104 and 91 in Ranchi and Mohali while Peter Handscomb showed his class with his maiden century. Ashton Turner's knock in Mohali gives Australia added depth. If Aaron Finch, who failed once again can click along with Glenn Maxwell and Shaun Marsh consistently, Australia's batting is sorted. The bowling has delivered in patches but they will need a similar all-round performance like Ranchi to seal the series.
Yuzvendra Chahal had an off-day in Mohali but that was due to the extreme dew in the outfield. Kuldeep has taken wickets on a regular basis but leaked runs in Ranchi and Mohali. India has been hampered by Kedar Jadhav leaking runs while Vijay Shankar has not been properly utilised as the fifth bowling option. After the Mohali loss, Kohli lamented that the fielding was not upto the mark and India needed improvement. Rishabh Pant had a bad time behind the wickets but in front of his hometown fans, he will be eager to bounce back. Looking at the nature of the wicket in Delhi, India might play two spinners and perhaps bring Ravindra Jadeja in place of Chahal. Mohammed Shami is fit but India might not immediately get him back in the side, with Bhuvneshwar having gotten only one game.
For Australia, Turner was a replacement for Marcus Stoinis who suffered a thumb injury. His exploits might keep Stoinis out but Australia might play two spinners on a Kotla wicket known to assist spin, meaning Nathan Lyon could replace either of Jason Behnrendorff or Jhye Richardson.
India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Vijay Shankar, Yuzvendra Chahal/Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Mohammed Shami.
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey (wk), Jhye Richardson, Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff/Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa
Who will win?
With so much at stake in the series, this is a tough one. The team that holds their nerve will come out on top. Australia are riding the momentum of two consecutive wins and in addition to their first-ever Twenty20 International series win, they hold a slight edge. However, India have a great record at the Kotla, having won three out of four encounters against Australia at this venue. The Aussies last won here 21 years ago and the weight of history and a potentially spin-heavy wicket makes India the favourites.
Weather and pitch conditions
The pitch could be great for batting at the start but will assist spin and provide low bounce as the game progresses. The weather is expected to be cloudy but there are very slim chances of rain. The dew factor might not be so much as was witnessed in Mohali so spinners will get more assist.
Stadium and Timings
Feroz Shah Kotla stadium (DDCA), Delhi. Match will start at 1:30 PM IST.