There is nothing like happy endings and India and Australia couldn’t have hoped for a better finish. Weather and some good cricket have evened out the imbalances generally seen in a seven-game series.
Despite commerce being given preference over cricket, everything has fallen into place, starting with two games being washed out to make it the ideal five-game contest.
The teams played their parts brilliantly by making each other dig deep, and the see-saw battle will culminate into a grand finish with the seventh game on Saturday.
Even taking into consideration how the bowlers’ have been treated, the matches have created enough excitement to draw everyone’s attention. The series has seen some cracking games and an equally high-voltage clash is on the cards at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
India have proved they deserve the top ranking and Australia that they are worthy contenders. Throughout the series, Australia have carried the edge into the games after their win in the opener. In the all-important game, though, it will be Advantage India.
The change in tide is Australia’s own doing. By recalling the team’s ace bomber, Mitchell Johnson, on the eve of the game, Cricket Australia has not done a favour to their one-day team.
It has not only upset skipper George Bailey’s game-plan, it also shows who’s hungrier for the trophy.
Johnson’s duels with the India batsmen were not only the feature of the series, he has been the impact player for Australia, striking early blows or coming back to rattle the middle order.
For the final game, Bailey is left to find a replacement and probably deal with another change as Adam Voges didn’t look comfortable with his back injury on the eve of the match.
The hosts claim all their men are fit, but whether Ravindra Jadeja is included remains to be seen. The Saurashtra player bowled at the nets but is carrying a shoulder niggle for which he will be rested for the Test series.
It’s only right that Ambati Rayudu gets a chance for either Suresh Raina or Yuvraj Singh. Skipper MS Dhoni has a tough choice to make as both have not got runs.
Tough on bowlers
India should also be back to the original combination of three pacers and two specialist spinners with Amit Mishra likely to make way for R Vinay Kumar or Jaydev Unadkat.
At first sight, the wicket had a tinge of grass but it is expected to be shaved ahead of the game. The turf is known to be a belter and the bowlers are staring at another tough outing. The only solace is that it will afford more carry than Nagpur, which should help if you have extra pace.
So far, the Aussies have used the plan to bounce out India effectively, but without Johnson, the India batters will breathe easy.
Dhoni’s main challenge will be to find a way to curb Australia’s dominating batting displays. Playing the pacers and spinners will equal authority, Bailey has increased the tempo of his game with each innings and India felt the full force of his blade in Nagpur where he smashed 156.
Bailey’s dilemma is that he doesn’t know what’s enough because India have shown the ability to chase down anything. The batting fireworks are set to continue on Diwali eve and whoever holds their nerve better will take the cake.