Canberra, December 2: The third ODI between India and Australia at the Manuka Oval is of mere academic interest only by the margin and not by the context. Of course, India have already lost the ODI series 0-2 but they have much to gain from the match.
Virat Kohli has effected wholescale changes to the side for this match, bringing in debutant T Natarajan, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav and Shubman Gill in the place of Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal and Mayank Agarwal.
India will be eagerly looking forward to the outing of Natarajan, who has shot into limelight during the IPL 2020 bowling yorkers at the death for Sunrisers Hyderabad. Being a left-arm pacer, he brings in that variety to the attack and needs some desperately at the moment.
Jasprit Bumrah, India's lead weapon, has looked a bit jaded while Shami has been rested as part of the workload management. India have another three T20Is to negotiate before entering the Test arena, and they would like to have some confident boosting wins before that.
For that, they need a better bowling effort than in the first two ODIs at Sydney. Apart from Bumrah, leggie Chahal and pacer Saini too were woefully out of depth at the SCG. Both the bowlers gave away more than 160 runs in two matches for sparse returns. They failed to nullify the barren nature of the pitch and could not use variations effectively unlike Shami.
Along with Natarajan, Kuldeep too will be watched closely. Till the ICC World Cup 2019 the combination of Kuldeep and Chahal, aka KulCha, formed the backbone of India's bowling in the middle-overs, cutting down runs and taking wickets. They were incredibly successful too.
But once India inevitably broke the combination, Kuldeep looked a loner. In fact, he had such a mediocre IPL 2020 and the Kolkata Knight Riders benched him for a larger part. The wrist spinner needs a revival and India will benefit from it too.
Dead rubber anyone?