Australia v India, 3rd ODI, Melbourne January 16, 2016

Series on the line for under-pressure India

280

Match facts

January 17, 2016
Start time 1420 local (0320 GMT)

Play 04:26
Chappell: Don't see India winning while chasing either

Big picture

You travel 7286 kilometres, two-and-a-half hours ahead in time, to arguably the most isolated city in the world, where your batsmen pile up runs but you don't come close to defending 309. So you travel another 4338 kilometres from Perth to Brisbane, another two hours ahead in time, rack up another big score and still don't come close to defending 308. Now there are 1676 kilometres to Melbourne, another hour ahead in time, to get up the next morning to see if the bowlers can do any better and save India from losing the series in six days.

MS Dhoni, though, seems to have asked his batsmen to do more, perhaps because he doesn't expect better from his bowlers and fielders: it doesn't matter if you get out for 280 trying to go for 340, but don't bother defending 310. Or just ask the batsmen to chase whatever the bowlers concede.

Australia is no longer alien to India because of these frequent visits but Steven Smith's side, despite fielding an almost third-choice attack, have given them a rude welcome. Playing a physical game, Australia have proven that their fielders' arms are stronger, their batsmen run harder, and they are more aware. India are an excellent fielding unit on smaller grounds, but Australia have exposed their arms and knowledge of angles by running them ragged on large outfields.

Australia won't be worrying too much when they reach Melbourne on Saturday, but they would like a strong performance from at least one of their bowlers.

Form guide

Australia: WWWLL (last five completed matches, most recent first) India: LLLWL

In the spotlight

Aaron Finch has been the exception to Australia's method of out-running India. He is one of the less subtle Australian batsmen, but as he showed in sprinting from 38 off 66 balls to 71 off 81 in Brisbane, his power-hitting has brutal potential. He rediscovered his touch during that innings and if he carries on with that, India haven't seen the worst yet.

Shikhar Dhawan cannot easily be dropped because India have only five established specialist batsmen in their squad. However, at his second home, Melbourne, Dhawan will have to produce more than what he has been of late because knives are sharpening. The good news for the fastest Indian to 2000 ODI runs, though, is that he has got his captain's backing. Now is the time when the captain needs him to come good.

The crowd is bound to be a talking point after the BBL Melbourne derby at the MCG had 80,883 spectators. To put the number in perspective, the 2015 World Cup final, which holds the record for the biggest crowd at a cricket match, brought in 93,013. The group match between India and South Africa was watched by 86,876 at the ground. With the BBL on, the pressure is on this bilateral series with little context: the first two ODIs registered less than stellar response from fans, especially when compared to some of the Big Bash attendances.

Team news

Australia retained the services of John Hastings, who could play at his home ground after the selectors decided to rest Josh Hazlewood for the remainder of the home summer. Mitchell Marsh's comeback to the squad will leave Australia with an interesting choice: which of the four quicks from the Brisbane game does he replace? Kane Richardson might be the one to miss out after leaking runs at a higher rate than the others.

Australia (probable) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Shaun Marsh, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 George Bailey, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 John Hastings, 10 Scott Boland, 11 Joel Paris

Dhoni all but ruled out playing Rishi Dhawan or going with fewer than two spinners. Shikhar Dhawan, too, has his backing. Manish Pandey cannot be left out without giving him even one proper innings. So expect India to play the same XI. The only change might be Bhuvneshwar Kumar coming in for Umesh Yadav.

India (possible) 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Ishant Sharma, 10 Umesh Yadav/Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Barinder Sran.

Pitch and conditions

In the five ODIs at the MCG during the 2015 World Cup, the side batting first reached 300 comfortably four times. Only in the final did New Zealand falter. These from Hastings, a local, are heart-breaking words for bowlers: "The white-ball wickets have been fantastic at the MCG this year throughout the Big Bash. They've actually had a bit more pace in them than usual. I think it will be another high-scoring affair."

Stats and trivia

  • Australia last lost a home ODI in November 2014. They have now gone 17 home ODIs without losing, one short of the longest unbeaten streak at home. If the washout against India in Sydney last year is discounted, this winning streak of 16 is the joint longest.

  • Rohit Sharma's 124 at the Gabba was his smallest hundred as an opener. His seven other centuries as an opener have been bigger than 137.

  • India are only the third team to have lost consecutive matches despite scoring 300 in each of them.

Quotes

"There are two options: either put pressure on [our] batsmen and score 330 or chase down the score, give them the batting first. These are the only two options we have got. We will have a look and decide what suits us the best."
India captain MS Dhoni doesn't think his bowlers and fielders can defend 300 in these conditions

"We had found out in Perth that our bowling attack has had less games than Mitchell Johnson by himself. So it is a real credit with the way the guys are applying themselves."
Australia opener Aaron Finch backs his side's rookie attack

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricpanther on January 19, 2016, 7:53 GMT

    @Zona, I would say, Don't worry about who was best and who is best and who z at what ranking, this all not require and because of all this India is down!! Don't look or listen to over-analysis of Manjarekar. Even in his time, he was getting out shockingly like throwing his wicket!!! Past is past. Need to understand not only present but at the moment. Ashvin is not even turning the ball in Aus wicket, I would say keep him for only Indian wicket, why is he there for Aus flat track?? Does his wrist involve along with fingers, like Shane warne was doing??? My friend, Zona, if you can't read the situations, do not give me advice, as I am the Best in cricket and understand players performance and reading players mind like NoONE!!

  • SandeepKumar15 on January 17, 2016, 15:46 GMT

    India understands that bowling is not their strength and Dhoni keeps mentioning the inexperienced attack he has got, but what I fail to understand us what are they doing about it? Tendulkar who is such a great star, and knows the game so well, has done nothing to help India's weakness after retirement. Help find, train and build a great pool of bowlers, rather than complain about it. Dhoni, who is going through the pain now, I am sure will do nothing about it either.

  • DMBangera on January 17, 2016, 9:57 GMT

    LastPakiStanding. A pakistani gets surprises all the time.

  • Jose...P on January 17, 2016, 9:09 GMT

    Shikhar seems to feel, guilty that he didn't donate enough dots today. Hence he decided to make up with a boundary donation. How charitable,he is! Hats off to him.

  • Jose...P on January 17, 2016, 5:22 GMT

    @MOSHIN; Kohli also exploits the slightest of width. They are trying to get the line asw close as possible to the off line. Everyone can't be a McGrath. Not even Josh!

  • Jose...P on January 17, 2016, 5:15 GMT

    England used to have a group called 'Dot Busters". Need their help now, to squash this dot epidemic.

  • mohsin9975 on January 17, 2016, 4:38 GMT

    Rubbish bowling by rookie AUS bowlers again. Bowling on the pads to Kohli

  • tezmanos on January 17, 2016, 3:52 GMT

    best bowler in the world"aswhin" left out pfffttt hahaha, he's so average,never would have seen muttiah,warne,ambrose,walsh,morkel,steyn,bond,mcgrath,vettori dropped at any stage at the top of "there" games.a winter playing in england or even for a oz/kiwi state side like players use to would make him a chance of being a great bowler,instead of a mud track turner

  • Cricinfouser on January 17, 2016, 3:47 GMT

    Nohit back to usual after 2 abberations...

  • JJJake on January 17, 2016, 3:40 GMT

    Get your Facts correct before posting @NIKHIL MONGA "First of all to the people who think indians are home track bullies well you wrong as every single team is a home track bully. Australians cant play in indian conditions, cant play in england in swing conditions cant play in south africa with windy conditions" WHAT????? Trying look at a Stat web site before you post next time and get your fact correct. HowSTAT is a good one, so is CricInfo records. There has been 14 series played between Australia and South Africa, in SA. Australia has won 12 of the 14 series over there. The last time Australia lost was in 1969 before the Country was Unified. Australia has won 12 test series in the Sub Continent (No Country from the Sub Continent has won a test series in Australia). That's a pretty good away record , South Africa has a very good away record as well. Check your Facts before posting next time.

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