Reinforced Australia prepare to fight back
Saturday, October 31
Start time 14.30 (09.00GMT)
Ricky Ponting doesn't like the idea of a seven-match ODI series. It's too long, he believes. Now that the first two games in India are out of the way with one win each, he can pretend his team are about to embark on a five-match series. That of course ignores the question of momentum, which is firmly in India's favour after their 99-run victory in Nagpur. Not a lot went right for Australia on Wednesday and, with injuries still plaguing their squad, they haven't been able to enjoy a settled build-up to the third game in Delhi. Australia's main problem surrounds their attack and its inability to contain India's powerful batting line-up. An injured Brett Lee is flying home and an unfit James Hopes is expected to miss this clash, making India favourites to go 2-1 up.
For India, there isn't much they can improve on their Nagpur effort, although they'll be keen for Sachin Tendulkar to post his first decent score of the series. MS Dhoni's remarkable century in the second match, combined with strong efforts from Suresh Raina and Gautam Gambhir, have given Australia plenty of headaches leading into the Delhi encounter. The one key difference between Nagpur and Delhi should be the Feroz Shah Kotla pitch, which is not expected to produce a particularly high-scoring match.
Form guide(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Australia - LWWWW
India - WLWLW
Watch out for ...
Gautam Gambhir: Yes, it was Dhoni who stole the show in Nagpur but in both matches so far Gambhir has contributed substantially at the top of the order. In Vadodara, his 68 from 85 deliveries steadied India after the early loss of the openers, and in Nagpur, he made 76 off 80 balls to set up the platform from which Dhoni launched his assault. The Australians will be desperate to remove Gambhir early at the Kotla; India will look to their No. 3 for another anchoring role.
Shaun Marsh: Indian viewers have seen the very best of Marsh during the IPL and Tim Paine's departure should ensure Marsh opens with Shane Watson for the remainder of the series. He's most comfortable at the top of the order and will be keen to re-establish himself as one of Australia's permanent one-day openers following a six-month lay-off that started when he hurt his hamstring during the series in the UAE against Pakistan.
With no injuries to speak of, India have no reason to alter their line-up. After a 99-run victory, why would you?
India (probable): 1 Sachin Tendulkar, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Ashish Nehra.
The situation isn't so clear-cut for Australia. Lee's elbow injury has ended his series and Hopes remains on the sidelines. Australia's sub-standard bowling effort in Nagpur could bring Moises Henriques and Doug Bollinger into the equation, with Ben Hilfenhaus especially vulnerable having leaked 83 runs on Wednesday. Ponting wasn't happy with the team balance in Nagpur, which could mean a debut for Henriques, probably at the expense of Adam Voges. Graham Manou will replace the injured Paine but won't take his batting position and is likely to slot in at No. 7.
Australia: (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Shaun Marsh, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Cameron White, 5 Michael Hussey, 6 Adam Voges/Moises Henriques, 7 Graham Manou (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Peter Siddle, 11 Ben Hilfenhaus/Doug Bollinger.
Pitch and conditions
The quality of the Kotla pitch in Delhi was slammed during the Champions League Twenty20, when slow, low bounce made it mighty hard to score runs. For the ODI the pitch is expected to be a bit better, but not much. Batsmen will need to be extra judicious in protecting against straight balls due to the low bounce. In short, don't expect a repeat of the 354 India posted in Nagpur.
Stats and trivia
- During the Adam Gilchrist years, Australia's other wicketkeepers barely got a look-in as Brad Haddin held down the No. 2 spot. Things have quickly changed and Manou will be the fifth gloveman Australia have used in ODIs in just over 18 months, after Gilchrist, Haddin, Luke Ronchi and Paine.
- Australia haven't played an ODI in Delhi since 1998, which means Ponting is the only man in their squad with international one-day experience there.
- MS Dhoni's 124 in Nagpur was the highest score by any captain against Australia in an ODI, beating Sanath Jayasuriya's 122 in 2003.
"Although we were soundly outplayed the other day, the positive of that was we were one-nil up in the series, so we're back to level pegging now, back to a five-match series really."
Ricky Ponting wants to start afresh in what is effectively a five-match contest now.
"We will try to carry the confidence from Nagpur and build on that rather than think about injuries to the Australians. Of course it's a big problem for them ... but we are focussing mainly on what we have to do well, and of course fielding is a major part."
MS Dhoni isn't placing much importance on Australia's problems.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo