A coveted series-victory will be at stake when a resilient India face a feisty Australia in the third and deciding ODI at Bengaluru on Super Sunday.
It promises to be a fitting finale between the two leading teams in world cricket. The series was very much expected to go down to the wire but with the way the Australians hammered the hosts in the series opener, it seemed the tourists would run away with their second straight series win in India.
However, India showed commendable character in Rajkot to level the series, proving that the panic buttons were pressed prematurely following the 10-wicket loss in Mumbai.
More importantly, India got their batting combination right for the second ODI, a fair comment considering the way K L Rahul seized the opportunity in his new batting position – number five. Kuldeep Yadav, who did not have the best of times in 2019, reaffirmed his value by bowling a match-winning over in which he removed Alex Carey and Steve Smith.
The other wrist spinner in the squad, Yuzvendra Chahal, may finally get to play alongside Kuldeep with the Chinnaswamy Stadium being his home ground in the IPL. Another positive for India was Jasprit Bumrah producing a tidy spell, his most impressive since his comeback from injury.
Captain Virat has a total of 5 ODIs here and managed 63 runs at an average of 12.63.
Australia too are unlikely to make wholesale changes in their line-up following the defeat. The visitors had a great chance of wrapping up the series but were unable to win the crucial moments.
The in-form Marnus Labuschagne was impressive in his first ODI innings but got out at the wrong time. Mitchell Starc would be itching to bounce back, having conceded 78 runs in 10 overs.
His new ball partner Pat Cummins was hard to score off once again while leggie Adam Zampa got the prized wicket of Kohli for the fifth time in ODIs.
However, left-arm spinner Ashton Agar has not been that effective and needs to up his game in the all-important series decider.
Another runathon is on the cards in Bengaluru and dew could hinder the side bowling second. The weather is expected to be fine for the duration of the match. The last two India-Australia ODIs in Bengaluru produced aggregates of 709 and 647.
It was a series billed as a showdown between two heavyweights and it has lived up to that. Both have traded punches and the contest will go down to the deciding round.