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The Australian players could be forgiven for having their heads turned towards the impending home summer already. Their ODI series in India is all but over and their recent biggest nemesis (no, not Virat Kohli) has made more headlines in the last one day than all of the Aussie batting line-up put together has, in the last 10.
But before they shift their attention to Ben Stokes-s bar brawl and all the news that-s trickling through from Bristol, they still have two matches to play. And more importantly a rut - spanning 11 successive defeats in the 50-over format - to bring to an end.
The ODI champions have made a mockery of their reputation since their World Cup triumph at home in 2015. Out of the 20 losses since (in 48 games), 11 have come in a row. If they add two more to that ignominious tally, they-ll slide down to 4th in the ODI rankings.
India find themselves at the absolute other end of the spectrum. A win on Thursday will give them their first 10-match winning streak ever in the format, while also taking them to the top of the heap in ODIs.
Australia-s Achilles heel through this series has been their batting, and the Chinnaswamy wicket is not about to do them any favours. After a 21-over chase in Chennai and a swing-fest in Kolkata, the Indore wicket came as a respite (to an extent) for the Australian batsman. But the Bangalore surface will once again push them out of their comfort zone, this time asking question of them and their temperament to survive on a slow, sluggish track.
The drastic transformation of the mood between the last time Australia touched down in Bangalore for the second Test four months ago and their arrival for the inconsequential fourth ODI now is symptomatic of how far down the visitors have slipped since their Pune heroics.
A win on Thursday will make no difference from the series perspective, but could come as a balm for Australia-s recurring wounds in the subcontinent and do some repair work to their reputation. After all, till someone else holds the trophy aloft in England in 2019, Australia will technically still be world champions.
When: India vs Australia, 4th ODI,September 28, 13:30 IST; 08:00 GMT
Where: M Chinnaswamy stadium, Bengaluru
What to expect: Showers and thunderstorm. The early hours of the eve of the game saw long spells of rainfall, and the match day could only get worse. Chinnaswamy-s SubAir subsurface aeration and vacuum-powered drainage system could come into play towards the end of the first innings around 5 PM IST and beyond, as per the forecast.
KL Rahul spent a considerable amount of time batting in the nets for two successive days leading up to the game, and could likely come off the bench finally. Which means Ajinkya Rahane, who didn-t bat on either of the two practice days, could make way at the top of the order. From the looks of it, another inclusion in the side could be Axar Patel, who bowled to MS Dhoni for two days in a row and even got some batting practice via throwdowns from the specialist Raghu on Wednesday.
Ravi Shastri kept a watchful eye over Kedar Jadhav-s net sessions on the eve of the game, and even spent time talking to the No.5 batsman who has scored 66 runs across the three games so far. But he should be persisted with. Mohammed Shami could also see some game time following intense net sessions.
Probable XI: Ajinkya Rahane/KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal/Axar Patel.
Even before the third ODI of the series was played, Australia were drawing up an Ashes preparation schedule for Pat Cummins, and pulled him out of the T20I leg of the tour that was to follow. With the series now already decided, the pacer was kept away from the middle two days out of the fourth ODI in Australia-s only training session before the Bangalore fixture. Even Nathan Coulter-Nile bowled with just a four-step run-up that was devoid of any intensity, while Kane Richardson and Marcus Stoinis bowled like there was still much to salvage.
One forced change for Australia will be the inclusion of Adam Zampa for the injured Ashton Agar, while James Faulkner could make a return too, for Cummins. Considering Peter Handscomb spent longer periods listening intently to Ian Healy-s animated lessons behind the stumps, while Matthew Wade trudged off swiftly after the training, the wicketkeeping duty is likely to remain with the part-timer.
Probable XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith (c), Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Peter Handscomb (wk), Adam Zampa, James Faulkner, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Kane Richardson
Did You Know:
- Rohit Sharma needs two more sixes to become the first Indian player to hit 50 sixes against an opponent in ODIs. Out of his 48 sixes, 16 have come in Bengaluru when the last time these two sides met, also the venue for the fourth ODI.
- David Warner will become the 28th Australian player to feature in 100 ODIs. His 4093 runs after 99 ODIs is bettered only by Hashim Amla (4798) and Viv Richards (4122).
- India last lost an ODI at Chinnaswamy way back in November 2003, also against Australia. In the seven matches since India have won five with one each ending in a tie and no result.
- Virat Kohli needs 13 more runs to reach 2000 ODI runs as captain. He has five innings at his disposal to become the fastest to reach there.
What they said:
"Our spinners have taken 13 wickets as compared to the Australian spinners. We have used the conditions much better than them. That is our plus point. Adam Zampa is the only wrist spinner in the team and he is not featuring in the team consistently." - Yuzvendra Chahal on the difference between the impact of the two spin departments.
"It-s a significant milestone for myself and my family. I-m extremely proud of where I am today." - David Warner on his upcoming milestone of 100th ODI.
India (From): Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli(c), Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni(w), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Axar Patel, Lokesh Rahul
Australia (From): David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith(c), Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head, Marcus Stoinis, Peter Handscomb(w), Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner, Hilton Cartwright
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