If Starc is giving sleepless nights to the batters, the other ‘Mitchell — Mitchell Marsh — has sent the Indian bowlers on a leather hunt by hitting nearly a dozen sixes (11) across two games. Tackling ‘Mitchell The Menace’ will be topmost on the Indian team’s agenda.
The series is locked at 1-1 and the starry quartet of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill and Suryakumar Yadav will have to bat out of their skins to stop the left-arm pacer, who is gearing up to once again bring the ball back viciously into the right-handers while taking a few away.
A sea change on the technical aspect, as well mental make-up, will be the need of the hour, and Starc has exposed their frailties pretty badly.
The white ball games in India are mostly played on flat decks, where one can get away by hitting through the line, where one doesn’t need too much of feet movement. A batter can plonk the front-foot and hit deliveries across the line with a fair degree of success.
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But Starc, blessed with better skill sets, changed the questionnaire with deliveries that would either straighten in the off-middle line or cut back sharply towards leg-middle after a fair amount of deviation in the air.The Indians have known what Starc has done for the longest time but they failed to factor in that conditions in Mumbai and Visakhapatnam would assist his bowling a bit more. In Mumbai, there was help off the surface but in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam, the ball did more in the air than off the surface.The refurbished Chepauk, with all its stands being open for public viewing, will be hosting an international game after quite some time and the re-laid pitch will attract a lot of attention.
Normally, Chepauk produces a track that is effective for slow bowlers and run-scoring in the middle overs might be difficult.
However, an interesting aspect of this year’s pitch preparation will be keeping Chennai Super Kings’ strength in mind and one might see some initial nip off the surface for the fast bowlers.
Suryakumar Yadav in T20Is can do no wrong with his aggressive shuffling inside the crease but that exaggerated movement across the crease has led to a couple of identical first-ball dismissals for him in both ODIs.
To play swing and seam, one needs to maintain perfect balance and play the ball as late as possible. Surya always tries to play late in T20s and hence it is a bit surprising that he is trying to meet the ball early in this format.
With no Shreyas Iyer for sometime, this is actually Surya’s best time to grab the opportunity and seal an ODI World Cup berth, but he has been far from convincing so far.
“Of course, we have seen and he knows that he needs to do well in the slightly-longer format of the game as well. Things are there in his mind as well. Guys with potential will have enough run so that they don’t feel like ‘okay I wasn’t given enough chances in that particular slot,” skipper Rohit had said after the last game.
“Surya got out in the last two games and in the series before that as well. He needs that consistent run, like back-to-back games, 7, 8 and 10 games like that. So that he feels more comfortable,” the skipper had assured.
The next run of ODIs will only be in June-July and there is a possibility that Iyer could be fit by then to reclaim his place and Surya might find it difficult to get his share of chances.
The Indian bowling attack needs to take its workload management seriously but, truth be told, the bowlers haven’t had much work to do as they have bowled a total of 47 overs (36 and 11) across the two games. That is not even half of the 100 allocated overs.
Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj wouldn’t mind making first use of the Chepauk surface if Rohit happens to win the toss.
The key question is if Shardul Thakur, or Jaydev Unadkat for his left-arm variation, will be used as third specialist seamer, or both spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel will get another game alongside Ravindra Jadeja.
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar, Ishan Kishan, Jaydev Unadkat, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umran Malik.
Australia: Steve Smith (captain), Mitchell Marsh, Travis Head, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Marbnus Labuschagne, Cameron Green, Nathan Ellis, Mitchell Starc, Sean Abbott, Adam Zampa, Ashton Agar, David Warner, Alex Carrey, Jos Iglis.