Struggling India aim to keep series alive (Preview)

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Melbourne, Jan 16 (IANS) Having lost two games in a row, India will aim to keep themselves alive in the ongoing five-match One Day International (ODI) series whne they face Australia in the third game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here on Sunday.

To be fair to the visitors, their batsmen did reasonably well, posting totals of 309 and 308 respectively in the first two matches after skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat on both occassions.

Rohit Sharma has been the star performer, scoring back to back centuries at the top of the batting order. The Mumbai lad scored an unbetaen 171 in the first match before posting 124 in the second.

Shikhar Dhawan, the other opener, continues to struggle with his form. The Delhi left-hander scored nine and six respectively, but his lack of contribution did not have any effect on the overall batting performance as Virat Kohli has more than made up for that with his excellent form at number three. Kohli produced half-centuries in both matches and was unlucky to miss out on a century in the oening game.

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Ajinkya Rahane has also done well, scoring 89 in the second game.

However, the Indian bowling lacked any sort of fizz as the hosts easily overhauled the targets on both occassions. Rookie pacer Barinder Singh Sran ad a promising debut, taking three top order wickets in the series opener. But he seemed out of depth in the second match, conceeding 51 runs without a wicket in his nine overs. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin also took a couple of wickets in the first ODI.

But the rest of the Indian bowlers have not been able to make any sort of impression on the Australian batsmen. To go with their lack of bite, the bowlers also conceeded as many as 12 extras in the second match in Brisbane. A poor effort in the field, including dropped catches, has compounded the visitors’ misery.

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The poor show by the bowlers has prompted Dhoni to conceede that the batsmen will have to do more if the visitors are to stay alive in the series.

The Indians have lost two of their last three ODI series, going down in Bangladesh away to South Africa at home. The bowling attack will have to be re-jigged if Dhoni wants to avoid a third consecutive series loss.

Since the pitch at the MCG is expected to be a batting track, the two spinners Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja should expect to be certain canditates for selection.

Among the seamers, Ishant Sharma has hardly covered himself in glory at Brisbane, but could still be selected given Dhoni’s preference for the Delhi pacer. Sran will probably be retained while it remains to be seen whether the economic Bhuvneshwar Kumar replaces Umesh Yadav.

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