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Cricket: India v Australia 3rd ODI preview

Australia have already lost the ODI series in India, but will be desperate to find a response in the third and final one-dayer when they face their hosts in Rajkot on Wednesday.

The Baggy Greens have lost five one-day internationals in a row in total and have a number of questions to try and find the answers to with the World Cup just around the corner.

First, however, they need to put on a show at the Khandheri Cricket Stadium as they seek to avoid a series sweep at the hands of the World Cup hosts.

WhatIndia v Australia, 3rd ODI
WhereKhandheri Cricket StadiumRajkot
When18:00 (AEST), Wednesday 27th September 2023
How to watchFoxtel, Kayo
OddsIndia 1.72, Australia 2.10

Margins of defeat a huge concern

A matter of months ago the Baggy Greens turned around an ODI series in India to take the honours, before storming into a 2-0 lead in South Africa earlier this month.

However, the Proteas hit back in style to claim three wins on the trot and with it the series, before the rot continued in India as the hosts easily won the opening two one-dayers.

The really concerning fact is that the defeats have all been comprehensive, with Australia coming up well short in the four matches in which they were chasing, while they were downed by five wickets in Mohali after being bowled out for 276.

That total in Mohali was in fact the best Australia have managed across the five matches, with their other totals 227, 252, 193 and most recently 217, with them having been bowled out on each occasion.

However, it is not just the batting that has failed, the bowlers have conceded 338, 416, 315, 281 and 399 in the five losses, so it is crystal clear that there are issues to try and fix with both bat and ball.

Seamer Sean Abbott admitted after the latest loss: "It's all well and good to say that we'll take learnings out of these games and stuff like that, but we do need to execute better as a whole."

Shaking things up for Rajkot

With the bat, coach Andrew McDonald may well be tempted to draft Mitch Marsh back in after he was rested for the loss in Indore on Sunday, with the all-rounder still doubtful as a bowler due to a long-standing ankle problem.

Other than that, it is about trying to squeeze better out of a batting line-up clearly struggling to fire in the absence of left-hander Travis Head, who is a doubt for the World Cup due to a fractured hand.

Veteran opener David Warner has made 52 and 53 in the first two ODIs in India, but he is the only one of the top six to have scored a half-century, with several getting starts before the experienced spin pairing of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja got to work.

Warner is 4.33 to be Team - Top Batter on Wednesday, with Steven Smith 4.00 to make up for being dismissed for a golden duck last time out.

With the ball, the options are again limited due to fitness issues, with both Spencer Johnson and Nathan Ellis carrying knocks, while Ashton Agar is still absent due to a calf problem and being on paternity leave.

Skipper Pat Cummins and left-arm quick Mitchell Starc both hope to be able to feature in the series finale in Rajkot and that would add some class to the Aussie attack, as well as easing the burden on Josh Hazlewood.

The usually stingy Hazlewood has conceded 215 runs across his last three outings, while leg-spinner Adam Zampa has also been under attack - being taken for 307 runs in his last four matches.

Zampa has little back-up in the spin department, with Agar, Head and Glenn Maxwell absent, leaving youngster and fellow leggie Tanveer Sangha as the only other option.

Thirty-one-year-old Zampa is 3.75 is to respond and be Team - Top Bowler in Rajkot and his 142 wickets in 85 ODIs played to date suggest that he has the class to do just that, the real question is does he have the confidence to do so?

Rajkot previous very limited

Australia and India have only ever met twice before in an ODI in Rajkot, most recently in January 2020 when the hosts claimed a 36-run victory despite 3-50 from Zampa and 98 from Smith.

Prior to that, the only other Rajkot clash came at the Municipal Ground back in 1986, when the Baggy Greens won by seven wickets, with Allan Border making an unbeaten 91.

A year later Border led the Aussies to their first World Cup triumph, in India, so the current crop will hope to repeat that sequence, starting by claiming a much-need win on Wednesday.

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