The Wankhede Stadium might have thrown a curveball in the first ODI but neither India nor Australia will fret too much over how their batters fared in those seamer-friendly conditions. Both teams have already qualified for the upcoming ODI World Cup and this series, anyway, is not part of the World Cup Super League.
Right now, it’s more about fine-tuning and finding the right combinations, and so the caravan moves from Mumbai on the west coast to Visakhapatnam on the east coast for more of that.
For India, their regular captain Rohit Sharma will be back after missing the first game because of family commitments. That means Ishan Kishan is likely to sit out. Unless India value his left-handedness and give him a chance in the middle order in place of Suryakumar Yadav.
KL Rahul hasn’t had a great time in Test cricket of late, but he showed his value as an ODI No. 5 with a match-winning unbeaten 75 in the first game. India will also be pleased with his glovework behind the stumps. He took an excellent diving catch to his right to dismiss Steven Smith apart from making a couple of one-handed stops down the leg side. Against spin too, he was equally impressive. With Rishabh Pant unlikely to be fit in time for the World Cup, Rahul’s wicketkeeping is a big plus.
Australia will be happy with the returns of Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell in the first ODI. Marsh, coming back after ankle surgery and playing this series as a specialist batter, smashed a 65-ball 81. Maxwell was playing his first international match since breaking his leg in November. He might not have contributed much with bat or ball, but he didn’t seem to be in any sort of physical discomfort.
India WWWWW (last five completed ODIs, most recent first) Australia LWWWW
In the spotlight: Suryakumar Yadav and Mitchell Starc
Shreyas Iyer’s absence has allowed India to play Suryakumar Yadav at No. 4. However, he has failed to replicate his T20I success in 50-over cricket. In his last ten ODIs, he has scored only 110 runs at an average of 13.75. With the ODI World Cup a little over six months away, is Suryakumar running out of time to be a serious contender for India’s squad?
On Friday, Mitchell Starc showed why he is such a force in ODI cricket. His new-ball spell, during which he dismissed Virat Kohli, Suryakumar and Shubman Gill, made Australia favourites to defend 188, before they were denied by KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja. Given Starc no longer plays in the IPL – 2015 was his last season – he will like to acquaint himself as much as possible with the Indian conditions before the World Cup.
Apart from Rohit’s return, India could consider bringing in Washington Sundar for Shardul Thakur as spinners have a better economy rate (5.64) than fast bowlers (6.15) in Visakhapatnam.
David Warner (elbow injury) and Alex Carey (illness) missed the first ODI but there is a chance that both could play on Sunday. If Warner returns, Australia will have to reshuffle their batting order. Carey will be a straight swap for Josh Inglis. They may experiment elsewhere, too, as they have said they will try things ahead of the World Cup.
Australia (probable): 1 Mitchell Marsh, 2 Travis Head, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Marnus Labuschagne, 5 Alex Carey (wk), 6 Cameron Green, 7 Glenn Maxwell, 8 Marcus Stoinis, 9 Sean Abbott, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Adam Zampa
Pitch and conditions: A shortened game?
Visakhapatnam has been a high-scoring venue with an average first-innings total of 295. The last time India played an ODI here, in December 2019, they posted 387 for 5 against West Indies with Rohit and Rahul scoring hundreds. Weather, though, could play spoilsport as there is a forecast of scattered showers in the afternoon.