Ranchi: Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s final homecoming forms a poignant subplot of an utterly dominant Indian team’s quest for an unassailable 3-0 lead in the third ODI against Australia here on Friday.
A 3-0 lead in the five-match series will be a perfect parting gift for Ranchi’s favourite son, who, in all likelihood, will be seen wearing the India Blues for the last time at his home ground. There has been a sense of déjà vu every time Dhoni has stepped on to the field in the ongoing series. It reminded many of Tendulkar’s penultimate Test series against Australia in 2013, when the cheer from the stands would amplify with each passing match. Something similar has been happening at every ground in this series, with the fans possibly beginning to realise that the legend may not be around when India next play at home.
Amidst the emotional side story, the Indian team is grappling with a few teething issues regarding its top-order batting, especially senior opener Shikhar Dhawan’s poor form, which has affected India’s starts of late. Despite Dhawan having gone off the boil with only two half-centuries in the last 15 ODIs, India are unlikely to tinker with the winning combination of the first two encounters.
KL Rahul, who is back in form, may have to wait till India clinch the series, but the team management could well try him out at the No. 3 position. The two victories — by six wickets and eight runs — weren’t exactly convincing but pulling off close matches under pressure will certainly add to the confidence.
“Just coming through these kinds of games gives us confidence. It’s important to look ugly at times, and come through and win. We might get these low-scoring games in the World Cup as well,” Kohli had said after the second game.
The bowling has been superb in both games with Australia failing to reach 250 but save Virat Kohli, who stamped his class with another hundred on a slow Jamtha track, none of the other batsmen have looked the part so far. Vice-captain Rohit Sharma, the second most consistent player in this line-up, looked good in the first game before he got out.
Kedar Jadhav and Dhoni shepherded India in the first match and didn’t trouble the scorers in the next. Rayudu, whose only significant knock was the 90 against New Zealand in the last away series, has been inconsistent and can be replaced with Rahul....