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India vs Australia, 7th ODI: Australia opt to field against India at Bangalore
Bangalore: India will yet again rely on their batting firepower as they seek to clinch the one-day series against an equally-determined Australia when the two teams clash in the seventh and final match on Saturday in what promises to be another high-scoring thriller.
After two successive washouts in Ranchi and Cuttak, India rebounded to level the series 2-2 in Nagpur with yet another superlative show by their batsmen, who chased down a mammoth 351-run target.
The incredible run chase brought back memories of India`s magnificent victory in Jaipur when they chased a stiff target of 360, achieving the second highest successful run chase ever in ODI history.
The bowlers of both the sides are under tremendous pressure on flat batting tracks as despite the two washouts, more than 2500 runs have been scored so far.
Even the score of 350 cannot be considered a cushion and tomorrow`s match is also likely to be another high-scoring tussle with the wicket at M Chinnaswamy stadium traditionally being a batting-friendly wicket.
The Indians, however, will find the going a little easier on the morrow as Australia`s pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson will sit out of the match as he is returning home to prepare for the Ashes.
Dhoni himself will be looking to repeat the Mohali performance where he scored a brilliant century to help India recover and post a challenging 300-plus total even as that was chased successfully by the visitors.
The worry for India is the middle-order where Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh are yet to come up with an innings of substance in this series and tomorrow is time for the two to make up for the earlier failures.
They have struggled against the pace and bounce extracted by Australian bowlers, especially Mitchell Johnson. Dhoni has the option of bringing in Ambati Rayadu but the Indian think tank may not want to tinker with the combination.
On the bowling front, the Indian bowlers` economy rate has gone for a toss in the batting-friendly conditions. Off-spinner R Ashwin, who grabbed 29 wickets in the four-Test series against Australia in February-March, has taken some heavy punishment from the in-form Australian batsmen, especially by skipper George Bailey.
Leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who played his first game at Nagpur, gave away 78 runs in 10 overs without taking a wicket.
India`s pace battery, consisting of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jaydev Unadkat and R Vinay Kumar, has also been expensive and failed to stem the flow of runs.
Dhoni has the option of using part-timers like Yuvraj Singh and Raina to bowl middle overs, but the field restrictions under the new ODI rules have made it difficult for him to toss the bowl to them.
It remains to be seen whether Ishant Sharma will be given another chance to redeem his poor display in the series as he was hammered for 30 in the `death` over at Mohali.
Australia too have enjoyed a splendid batting effort. Bailey has tormented the Indians as he is the top run-getter in the series, while dangerman Shane Watson came out all blazing guns by scoring a century in the last match.
Australian batsmen have taken Indian bowlers to the cleaners and managed to restrict them to make early inroads. Bailey reckons his team has enough quality to clinch the series third time in a row.
The visitors, like India, have plenty to worry about with their bowling department not living upto expectation. Nevertheless, their speedsters have exposed some chinks with their short-ball attack.
The Australian bowlers, like the hosts, have struggled to contain the Indian batsmen.
It will come down to bowlers` making less mistakes and whichever team does that better, will have a better chance to walk away with the series victory.
The series-win will boost the Australians ahead of the home Ashes series against England, starting later this month.
India: M S Dhoni (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Amit Mishra, Jaydev Unadkat and Mohammed Shami.
Australia: George Bailey (Captain), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Callum Ferguson, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Moises Henriques, Phil Hughes, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Adam Voges and Shane Watson.
Field Umpires: Shiva Ravi and Nigel Long
Third Umpire: Anil Chaudhary
Match Referee: Andrew Pycroft