Menacing Mitchells stand between India and series victory

India's top order batsmen were given a torrid time by Mitchell Starc who took eight wickets in the first two matches with his pace and swing

By PTI

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Indian captain Rohit Sharma with teammate Mohammed Siraj during a practice session at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, on Tuesday. — PTI
Indian captain Rohit Sharma with teammate Mohammed Siraj during a practice session at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, on Tuesday. — PTI

Published: Tue 21 Mar 2023, 7:02 PM

The big stars of Indian batting will have to give their best when they take on Australia in Chennai on Wednesday.

The Indian top order batsmen were given a torrid time by Mitchell Starc who took eight wickets in the first two matches with his pace and swing.


When Starc gives the batters sleepless nights, the other ‘Mitchell – Mitchell Marsh – has sent the Indian bowlers on a leather hunt by hitting nearly a dozen sixes (11) in two games.

Tackling Mitchell The Menace will be high on the Indian team’s agenda.


The series is tied at 1-1 and the star quartet of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill and Suryakumar Yadav must scrape their skins to stop the pacemaker with his left arm as he prepares to bring the ball again back viciously into the right-handers while taking a few away.

A fundamental change in the technical aspect as well as the mental makeup will be the need of the hour and Starc has exposed their weaknesses.

The white ball games in India are mostly played on flat decks where you can escape by hitting through the line.

But Starc, blessed with better skills, changed the questionnaire with deliveries that would either straighten out in the off-middle line or clip back sharply toward mid-leg after quite a deviation in the air.

The Indians have long known what Starc did, but they didn’t take into account that the conditions in Mumbai and Visakhapatnam would support his bowling a bit more. There was help from the surface in Mumbai, but in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam, the ball did more in the air than off the surface.

The renovated Chepauk, with all its stands open to the public, will host an international game after some time and the newly laid pitch will draw a lot of attention.

Usually, Chepauk produces a stretch that is effective for slow bowlers and run-scoring in the middle overs could be difficult.

An interesting aspect of this year’s pitch prep, however, will be keeping an eye on the strength of the Chennai Super Kings and one could see a first breath coming from the surface for the fast bowlers.

Surya’s troubles

Suryakumar Yadav in T20Is can’t go wrong with his aggressive shuffle inside the crease, but that exaggerated movement across the crease has resulted in a pair of identical first ball deflections for him on both ODIs.

To play swing and seam you need to have perfect balance and play the ball as late as possible. Surya always tries to play late in T20s, so it’s a bit surprising that he’s trying to hit the ball early in this format.

Without Shreyas Iyer for some time, this is actually Surya’s best time to take the opportunity and secure a place in the ODI World Cup, but he has been far from convincing so far.

“Obviously we saw and he knows he has to do well even in the slightly longer format of the game. He also has things on his mind. Guys with potential will have enough run so they don’t feel like I didn’t get enough chances in this particular slot,” skipper Rohit had said after the final game.

“Surya dropped out in the last two games and also in the series before that. He needs that consistent run, like back-to-back games, 7, 8 and 10 games like that. To make him feel more comfortable."

The next round of the ODIs won’t be until June-July and there’s a chance Iyer could be fit to reclaim his spot by then and Surya could find it difficult to get his share of chances.

The Indian bowling attack needs to take their workload management seriously, but honestly the bowlers haven’t had much to do as they bowled a total of 47 overs (36 and 11) across the two games. That’s not even half of the 100 overs allotted.

Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj wouldn’t mind using the Chepauk interface for the first time if Rohit happened to win the toss.

The key question is whether Shardul Thakur or Jaydev Unadkat will be used for his left-arm variant as a third special glider, or whether the two spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel will get another game alongside Ravindra Jadeja.

Today's match

Third ODI

India vs Australia

Chennai

Match starts at 12 pm UAE Time

Did you know?

* In the first-ever ODI between India and Australia at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, Geoff Marsh, Mitchell Marsh's father played a match-winning knock of 110.

* The wicket at MA Chidambaram Stadium has traditionally helped the team that bats first. Thirteen of the 22 ODIs in Chennai have been won by the side batting first.

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