The 5th ODI between India and Australia to be played on Saturday at Cuttack is under threat as it has been raining continuously there for the last four days, water-logging the Barabati Stadium outfield. Since Monday, most of the Odisha districts have seen heavy rainfall, and Cuttack hasn’t been spared either. As per the local forecast, even if the match gets underway, it is most certain to be interrupted by rain, which includes the threat of the match being abandoned. The fourth ODI in Ranchi was also abandoned due to rain after 4.1 overs into India’s chase, after Australia set a challenging 295.The pitch curator at the Barabati Stadium, Pankaj Patnaik, hopes to keep it dry for the one-dayer and said they might even use a chopper to dry the outfield.The OCA, which is hosting an ODI for the first time since November 29, 2011 when India won against the West Indies by one wicket, has grand plans of drying up the field using choppers but more rain could hamper that. Online tickets for the match have already been sold out, while the box office at the stadium was opened on Wednesday. To cover itself from the financial losses in the eventuality of a washout, the Orissa Cricket Association has got the match insured for Rs. 25 crore, for which it has paid a premium of Rs. 12 lakh.
After India’s resounding victory chasing down 360 by nine wickets, the home side while defending a stiff 304 was severely let down by a disastrous 30-run 48th over by Ishant Sharma in Mohali, something that has become the talking point of the series. The lanky pacer was omitted along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and replacement Shami Ahmed showed fine promise bowling consistently around the 140kph mark extracting excellent swing and recording a career-best 3/42 haul in Ranchi. It was for the first time in the series the dangerous Aussie top-order was troubled by pace as Shami’s fine in-swing bowled Aaron Finch and Shane Watson. The performance would certainly guarantee Shami a place in the remaining matches of the series but other bowlers’ performance is something to ponder about. Left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat, the second replacement in the fourth ODI, hardly troubled the Aussies with his slow pace but an economical Bhuvneshwar should be a better ploy in the pace attack. In slow bowling, Ravichandran Ashwin’s profligacy is also something to worry about. In Amit Mishra, India have a better option but going by the selection it seems a wrist leg-spinner is the last preference for Dhoni. Vinay Kumar has been costly but the medium pacer, who denied George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell centuries in two crucial wickets in Ranchi, would definitely have something in his favour. Another thing that would be on Dhoni’s mind is the poor catching in Ranchi where the butter-fingered Indian fielders dropped as many as six including two each of Bailey and Maxwell. As for the batsmen, the new ODI rules are helping them revel on flat Indian pitches, making a mockery of the bowlers. Three Indian batsmen have posted centuries including the off-colour Rohit Sharma, while Virat Kohli is in ominous form with two half-centuries and a hundred to be the leading rungetter with 229 runs (at an average of 109.04). The batting looks more or less balanced even though Yuvraj Singh has been silent after his fiery 77 not out in the T20I in Rajkot. The Aussies, on the other hand, would be wary of Shami’s bowling as was admitted by their skipper Bailey after the washed-out ODI in Ranchi.
After being thrashed 0-4 by India in the Test series earlier this year, Australia have come back strongly in the ongoing ODIs and their batsmen have shown they are not intimidated by big totals. India’s wayward bowling and fielding has only helped the visitors’ cause. Bailey has led by example for far being the highest run-getter (318) as an Aussie captain in a bilateral series. He is also the leading scorer in the series averaging 106. And in bowling they boast of a fiery pace attack with Mitchell Johnson touching the 150kph mark but would look to improve in the spin department with Xavier Doherty being the only option.
India : Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin/Amit Mishra, M Shami, Vinay Kumar, J Unadkat.
Australia: Philip Hughes, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, George Bailey (c), Adam Voges, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin (wk), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty.
- Key Players
Virat Kohli: Batting has clearly been India’s strength in the series, and India’s premier batsman in the series, Virat Kohli has stood out for his consistency and positive stroke-play. Kohli has 2 half-centuries and a century to his name thus far from 3 games in the series, and his appetite for scoring big is crucial to India’s chances of success in the series. His value as a fielder and his part-time medium pace bowling further add to his value in the Indian team.
Mitchell Johnson: The contest that has proven to be decisive in the on-going series is that between the Indian batsmen and the Australian bowlers. Mitchell Johnson has been a stand-out performer for Australia, bowling with a great deal of control and his 4-wicket haul at Mohali was testament of his ability to spear-head the attack for Australia in ODI cricket. Johnson would now look to up his performances and aim for greater effectiveness as an opening and death overs’ bowler.
Pitch: Nothing can be said about the pitch as it has changed quite a lot after the persistent rain. It is expected to be damp and a low bounce pitch.
Expected Result:- Match Abandoned without any play