India’s cricket team will attempt to avoid going 2-0 down in their five-match one-day series with Australia when the two sides face off in Brisbane on Friday. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team looked set to get their tour Down Under off to the best possible start when posting a score of 309, off the back of a sensational 171 from Rohit Sharma, and then reducing the hosts to 21-2 in their reply. Yet a record third-wicket stand for Australia of 242 between Steven Smith and George Bailey enabled them to take a five-wicket victory with four balls to spare.
The loss made it five one-day international defeats in a row for India in Australia, continuing their miserable overall record Down Under. Yet there was plenty of encouragement to take from the first match in Perth. Doubts over the batting lineup have been eased, while pace bowler Barinder Sran took three wickets on debut.
“There were a lot of positives to be taken from that game, especially playing the first game in Perth and scoring 300 runs,” Sharma said in his press conference ahead of the second match at the Gabba. “Losing the game was not such a positive sign, but we did pretty much what we could have. They created a very good partnership and then we were not able to get back into the game. There were a lot of positives in our batting, but we still need to work on our bowling and get those breakthroughs whenever there is a big partnership going on.”
If there was a disappointment, it was India’s spin bowlers. The selectors opted to pick both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in Perth, trying to capitalize on their spin strength. Yet both proved expensive, and Sharma hinted that an extra pace option could come into the side. With Ishant Sharma now back available for selection, after overcoming an injured finger, he is an option if Dhoni and the selectors opt to go in that direction.
Australia will be forced into making two changes to their lineup. Opener David Warner has left the squad on paternity leave, likely to be replaced at the top of the batting order by Shaun Marsh. Meanwhile, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh has been rested with three 50-over contests still remaining on the schedule after Friday’s match. His place likely to be taken by either Kane Richardson or John Hastings. Bowlers Joel Paris and Scott Boland are expected to keep their place, despite enduring torrid debuts last time out. But all-rounder James Faulkner is expecting another batter-friendly pitch at the Gabba.
“Everyone was quite surprised by the way the wicket played in Perth, it was very flat and we saw a lot of runs scored,” he said, according to ESPN. “I think any time you see 300 scored and chased it's definitely a flat wicket. “I'm expecting the same sort of scenario here as well, I haven't seen a one-day wicket that hasn't been flat here for a fair while, so it should have good pace, carry and be a good contest again.”
Match time: 10:20 p.m. EST on Thursday
TV channel: Willow TV
Live stream: Willow.tv