Australia seek redemption under rain threat
Match FactsSunday, October 24, Margao
Start time 09:00 (03:30 GMT)
The Big Picture
"My god I have never seen rain like this before," John Hastings, the Australia allrounder, tweeted on Saturday afternoon. "Chances are slim." He was right. It poured for five hours on Friday evening and rained again on Saturday morning. The forecast threatens more bad weather; if the game is washed out it would be the first time since the 1979-80 tour that Australia will leave India without having won a single game, including any tour matches. There was also a short tour in 1996 (one Test and one warm-up game) where Australia drew the tour game and lost the Test.
If the rains stay away and the drainage facility at the stadium, reportedly substandard, surprises to give us a game, Callum Ferguson will replace Michael Hussey. Ferguson hasn't played a single Test match but they say he will be the captain in the future. Do such wild expectations terrify a young talent? "That would be the highest honour as a cricketer you could possibly get," Ferguson said. "I just desperately want to get my baggy green first and see where we go from there." Before that Test debut, though, he will strive to shine in one-dayers. He had impressed in the 25 ODIs he played before his career was halted by an injury sustained in the 2009 Champions Trophy final. He has to do it all over again now, returning after knee reconstruction surgery.
Will Australia be tempted to give David Warner a game? Shaun Marsh was a bit scratchy in the last ODI and his technique was different from the serene version that was on show during the IPL in India. Back then, Marsh chose to remain as still as possible and play beside the line of the delivery, but he was seen shuffling all over in the previous match. Warner gives Australia an aggressive option at the top for barring Cameron White, who too can be a slow starter, the batting line-up is filled with batsmen whose strike-rates hover around the 75 mark. Time will tell whether the plan is to play Marsh along with the powerful Shane Watson during the World Cup. Visakhapatnam marked the promising debut of the 20-year old left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc. With his high-arm action he managed to extract some bounce on a life-less pitch and beat the bat of Yuvraj Singh a few times.
The match also eased a couple of India's concerns. Virat Kohli has now definitely moved ahead of Rohit Sharma in the pecking order, while R Ashwin put up a promising display with the ball. Kohli will hope he can get a couple more big knocks before Gautam Gambhir returns from injury. Ashwin impressed with his control and repertoire against two good players of spin - Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey. He will, however, want to improve on his poor fielding if he wants to firmly shut the door on his competitor Ravindra Jadeja.
Form guide(most recent first)
Watch out for...Tim Paine struggled to adapt to the slowness of the Visakhapatnam track. He tried to force the pace but went too hard at the ball. In the Tests, though, he showed signs of being a batsman who waits for the ball to come on against the seamers, and doesn't try to hide his bat behind the pads while playing spin. If he can return to that mode, Paine is likely to do well in the third ODI.
You could sense that Yuvraj Singh was desperate to finish the game at Visakhapatnam. He revived the innings with a calm approach and looked to be in complete control. He didn't let the pressure of the high asking rate to get to him and continued to steady the chase in Kohli's company. His end, though, revealed the inner turmoil. He scored six runs off his last 18 deliveries and was run-less for his final six. The pressure proved claustrophobic: when Shikhar Dhawan, runner for Kohli, refused a risky single, Yuvraj slogged at the next delivery and was bowled. This fascinating inner battle between the adrenaline-fuelled Yuvraj and the calm senior version has been a constant feature over the years. Which one will dominate in Goa?
Vinay Kumar leaked runs in the end after a steady start - he went for 31 runs in his first seven overs but bled 41 in his final two - and India will consider replacing him with Munaf Patel who was economical in the Sri Lanka tri-series.
India (probable): 1 M Vijay, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Saurabh Tiwary, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Vinay Kumar / Munaf Patel, 11 Ashish Nehra.
Ferguson is certain to play, while Warner will hope to replace Marsh in the Australia side.
Australia (probable): 1 Shaun Marsh / David Warner, 2 Tim Paine (wk), 3 Michael Clarke (capt), 4 Callum Ferguson, 5 Cameron White, 6 Steven Smith, 7 James Hopes, 8 John Hastings, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Mitchell Starc.
Pitch and conditions
The rains have affected the pitch preparations. Australia's coach Tim Nielsen believes it would play slow. "I'm not sure it has seen a lot of sunshine," Nielsen said. They can roll a bit more tomorrow, if the sun comes out. The wicket may be a bit slow but it could be a good batting wicket."
Stats and trivia
- Shaun Marsh made his name in India during the IPL but hasn't had a great time against India. His career batting average is 37.33 but it slips to 28.80 from five games against India. It's not all gloom, though, as his only ODI ton came against them.
- Yuvraj Singh has picked up 84 ODI wickets at an average of 40.73 and an economy rate of 5.05 in his career. He has struggled against Australia, though. He has taken only six wickets at an average of 92.66.
- Yuvraj's batting record against Australia is not the best either. He averages just 28.28 from 34 games as compared to his career average of 36.83. His captain MS Dhoni averages 40.58 (career average is 50.28) from 24 games against them, while his strike rate drops from 88.34 to 74.11.
Quotes"I have never seen rain like this in India.. It does not look good for our game on Sunday."
Michael Clarke has an eye on the skies
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.