The show now moves from the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) to the Manuka Oval in Canberra, Australia’s national capital and the venue for the third and the last One-dayer. Now, the irony is Manuka Oval is generally considered a ‘high scoring’ venue in Australia.
One can only wonder how a ‘high-scoring’ venue in Australia can get more than what the flat track at Sydney offered. Steve Smith would probably know.
The only difference at the Manuka, perhaps, is that toss has been an overtly decisive factor and that shouldn’t be considered trivial by a visiting side that’s desperate to find its feet. Six times out of seven, the team batting first has won.
So be it then. India will have to win the toss, elect to bat first, and set a total that Australia cannot reach, and as much as that may sound rude, it’s the only opportunity India are left with before they move to the T20s and eventually the Tests.
The benchmark is already set. The lowest score in the last four One-dayers at the Manuka Oval is 348-8.
A win in Canberra won’t make any difference to a series that’s done and dusted. All it’ll do is instill some bit of confidence as Virat Kohli and Co move to the next format from here – the T20s – before changing into their whites for the eventual four Tests.
Confidence alone had to be India’s calling card if they were to fight the pressures that come along with an Australia tour. And that confidence has been severely dented by Smith and his team already.
Toss aside, there are two more factors that can help India restore some bit of parity here. David Warner and Pat Cummins, the destroyer and the wrecker in chief, are both on a break. While that’ll mean two new faces – probably any two between D’Arcy Short, Cameron Green, Sean Abbott (expected to replace Cummins) and Matthew Wade – coming in, the pressure’s going to be no less on India.
Smith, Labuschagne, Maxwell, Starc, Hazlewood – they’re all going to be very much around.
India, on the other hand, have a lot to consider and focus on. Is there a likelihood of bringing in the young Shubman Gill? Are Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami in need of a break for the time being? Doesn’t Kuldeep Yadav enjoy a better chance of making an impact than Yuzvendra Chahal, who has clearly struggled?
These are the decisions for Kohli to evaluate. As much as the One-dayer – despite the series lost – has its own significance, he must ensure his players don’t really suffer the ignominy of a breakdown on lifeless pitches where they’ve failed to figure a relatively effective line and some more lucid length.
For the record: India lost the One-dayer they last played here and 348-8 is the lowest total scored at the Manuka Oval in the last four ODIs.
Who said it comes any easy on a tour of Australia?