Suryakumar Yadav set to be demoted, Umran Malik may be unleashed: Here's India's likely XI for 3rd ODI vs Australia
India vs Australia 3rd ODI: India might make a couple of tweaks to their XI for the series decider in Chennai.
3, 20, 4, 0 and 13, 0, 31, 0 - These are the scores of India's top four in the previous two ODIs against Australia. The names include Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav and Rohit Sharma. In the first ODI, the rescue act was done by KL Rahul (75*) and Ravindra Jadeja (45*) but in the second match, there was no stopping the rampage. It takes no prize for guessing where the focus will be when India face Australia for the series decider in Chennai on Wednesday. India's underperforming yet heavyweight top-order is short of runs, short of confidence. Their shortcoming against the moving ball has once again been laid bare by a left-arm seamer - Mitchell Starc.
How they come back will, in many ways, define the outcome of the series. Captain Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli pick themselves. They haven't fired yet but hardly anyone would doubt their quality. The same, however, cannot be said with certainty for Suryakumar Yadav.
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The No.1-ranked T20I batter has failed to replicate his success in ODIs. To make matters worse, he has been dismissed for first-ball ducks in both the ODIs. Shreyas Iyer's absence due to a back injury would mean there is no immediate threat to his position in the XI but with is problems of building an innings while batting as high as No.4 in ODIs quite evident, the think tank could use him as a finisher and promote all-rounder Axar Patel.
The move will serve a lot of purposes. Firstly, it will allow Surya to approach the ODIs like a T20 by coming in to bat at No.6 or 7. Secondly, Axar is the man in form. He was India's second-highest scorer in the four-match Test series. Even in the previous ODI, he looked one of the most comfortable among the Indian batters. Lastly, it will help India break the pattern of six straight right-handers. With Ravindra Jadeja already there in the lower middle-order, Axar's promotion can give the Indian batting unit the right left and right mix.
In KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Jadeja and Surya, India have an enviable middle-order. All they need is a platform, which Rohit, Gill, and Kohli are more than capable to provide.
As far as the bowling attack is concerned, head coach Rahul Dravid made it clear that Kuldeep Yadav will be preferred the lead spinner over Yuzvendra Chahal. Thanks to the luxury of multiple all-rounders in Hardik, Jadeja and Axar, Rohit will have no dearth of options. But it might not be a bad idea to give a go to Umran Malik.
Mitchell Starc has shown what can be done with pace and accuracy with the new ball. Umran, a lot less experienced and a very different bowler than Starc, has left his mark in whatever little opportunities he has got at the international level.
India's Predicted XI for 3rd ODI vs Australia
Openers: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill
Top and middle order: Virat Kohli, Axar Patel, KL Rahul
Power-hitter: Suryakumar Yadav
All-rounders: Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya
Spinner: Kuldeep Yadav
Pacers: Mohammed Siraj, Umran Malik/Mohammed Shami