About the Match
Is there even such a thing as a hard, bouncy seaming wicket in India? Yes, there is and it is the transformed Eden Gardens that is the venue. The wicket was relaid soon after Sourav Ganguly took place and one of the briefs that Ganguly gave the groundsman was to convert the wicket from a low, turning track to one that would aid seam, bounce and stroke play.
Sounds tailor-made for Australia then. Can the Aussies take advantage of conditions that should theoretically suit them more than in any other part of the country or will India continue their impressive winning streak?
An absolute horrible start to the first ODI highlighted the fears about this Indian lineup’s batting. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are unquestioned giants of the ODI game but Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, and Kedar Jadhav present three relatively soft targets in the top-5.
It is something that India will need to sort out quickly otherwise Dhoni and Pandya will be needed to pull off a lot many more miracle escapes. Speaking of the two, they played one of the most memorable counter attacks in recent history and showcased the depth that India has at its disposal.
Shikhar Dhawan will walk into this team when he is fit, so Rahane knows he is doing a stop-gap job but Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav need to get their act together quickly.
Kolkata could prove to be another challenge for the Indians as they are likely to encounter plenty of seam, bounce, and movement with the new ball once again. Kohli has been suspect against the moving ball off late and would desperately want to score in these conditions.
Recent form is not a problem for Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni or Hardik Pandya. Ajinkya Rahane scored plenty of runs in the West Indies too and has the technique to counter these conditions as well.
The bowling presents a much better picture thanks to the emergence of Hardik Pandya as a genuine seam bowling all-rounder. He followed up his pyrotechnics with the bat with some crucial wickets in the last match and seems to have added the knuckleball to his armory as well.
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar bowled brilliantly to tuck up David Warner and will be India’s most potent weapon with the new ball, while Jasprit Bumrah will be the one leading the attack in the death overs. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav both bowled very well, picking up wickets in the middle overs, although Glenn Maxwell did threaten to hit them out of the attack at one point of time.
Steve Smith said after the first match that a shift away from usual plans cost them the match. We could not agree more but think the problems started with the team selection itself. Hilton Cartwright at the top of the order looked a poor choice when Travis Head is in the team. Even Marcus Stoinis has had plenty of success in the IPL opening the batting but he was not chosen for the job.
James Faulkner had a bad day, something that has been increasing of late, and so maybe Kane Richardson, a genuine wicket-taking option would have been a better choice for the eleven.
It remains to be seen whether Australia makes any change to their side or sticks to the tried and trusted but they would definitely be a bit unsure approaching this match. One of the things that they can rely on is their bowling attack.
Nathan Coulter Nile was a revelation the other night and continues his renaissance at the international level. He played for the Kolkata Knight Riders this last IPL season and took 8 wickets from 4 games at the Kotla. That experience will definitely come in handy in this match.
Also someone who bowled brilliantly without much luck was Pat Cummins. His pace and bounce off the pitch is going to be very hard to negotiate and will pose some serious challenges to the batsmen. Marcus Stoinis was the third bowler who bowled with success, thanks largely to the short delivery, but his military medium pace could struggle on a pitch that carries through nicely.
Adam Zampa and one of either Faulkner or Richardson will complete bowling attack, thus providing Australia with a very potent combination in any condition.
We also think it is going to be difficult to keep David Warner and Steve Smith quiet for a long time in this series. A big innings is coming from one or both of them and it could be this match. If they fail, however, then their middle order is also a little scratchy with only Glenn Maxwell having plenty of success in these conditions previously.
Pitch and Conditions
Reports from the ground suggest that there is plenty of grass on the surface, something that will no doubt be reduced by the time the match starts, but the rain around Kolkata may have hampered its preparation somewhat. Inconsistent bounce could be an issue.
More rain is predicted on match day, possibly in the second half and so we could once again see Duckworth-Lewis coming into play.
Australia has the bowling attack to really put the pressure on the Indians. The toss will also play a large role as teams may look to chase to chase because of the forecast rain or bat first and look to use the new ball under lights when it swings more. A hard one for the captains.
We think that the Aussies could walk away winners from this one.
Australia to win