Saturday, November 17, 2018 09:35:35 AM
With a lead of 1-0 in the five-match one-day international series, hosts Australia will be the more confident side when they take on India in the second ODI at Gabba, Brisbane, on Friday.
The visitors, who have been wounded by a hard-hitting defeat in the series opener despite putting up a big total on board, will have to tighten the screws in bowling, fully aware that any slip-up will make their task of bouncing back difficult.
After opting to bat at the WACA, India piled up a massive total of 309 for 3 with Rohit Sharma scoring an unbeaten 171 from 163 balls and Virat Kohli contributing 91 to a 207-run second-wicket partnership.
However, Steve Smith and George Bailey both scored centuries as Australia cruised to a five-wicket win with four balls to spare.
What was more agonising for the visitors was that apart from Debitant pacer Barinder Sran, who returned with figures of 3 for 56, none of their bowlers proved effective on a lifeless pitch, resulting in a complete mockery at the hands of Smith and Bailey.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had banked on his frontline spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to tighten the rope around the Australian batting, proved powerless to prevent Smith and Bailey from taking the match out of India's hands.
While it is normal for the bowlers to have their bad days, the manner in which Smith and Bailey toyed with the duo scoring bulk of the 139 runs that they gave away in 18 overs, it is only obvious that Dhoni will be a little worried.
And on Friday at the Gabba, Dhoni would be expecting a much-improved show from his bowlers as he does not have definitive part-time options to fall back upon.
Experienced fast bowler Ishant Sharma, who has a finger injury and did not play the 1st ODI, is fit and available for selection. Keeping in mind Ishant's experience and Bhuvneshwar's failure, Dhoni might give the Delhi bowler an opportunity in Brisbane.
Unlike the WACA wicket, which was unusually batting friendly, the Gabba pitch is expected to ne on the faster side, which might tempt Dhoni to go in with four pacers.
Injury to fast bowler Mohammed Shami has already blunted India's attack and the other two fast bowlers - Bhuvneswar and Umesh Yadav - have failed to make an impression.
Meanwhile, there isn't anything for India to be worry about on the batting front with Rohit and Kohli in brilliant touch.
However, one thing that the Indian think-tank would be wary about is the form of Smith.
The Australian captain is an old foe of India and Smith's record against the visitors is towering to say the least.
Smith's sequence against India across all formats reads - 162 not out, 52 not out, 133, 28, 192, 14, 117, 71, 47, 105, 149 - and Dhoni's men will have to find a way to dismiss him early.
The hosts, however, will miss the services of David Warner and Mitchell Marsh, both of whom are unavailable for the second ODI.
While Warner is away on paternal leave, Marsh has been rested. Cricket Australia has drafted Usman Khawaja, who has three Test centuries this season, into the squad in Warner's absence. It remains to be seen whether Khawaja will join Aaron Finch at the top of the order in Brisbane.