The stage is set for the IND vs. AUS 3rd ODI in Rajkot, scheduled for September 26, 2023. This match, commencing at 1:30 pm IST, marks the final chapter of the series before both teams reconvene on the grand stage of the World Cup. India has already secured the series, aiming for a clean sweep, while Australia seeks to salvage pride and avoid another series loss.
As we approach the third ODI, both squads are poised for significant changes. The focus for both teams is to field their strongest XI, keeping an eye on their ideal combinations for the upcoming World Cup. However, injury concerns add an element of intrigue to the team selections.
In the previous ODI, Australia opted to rest key players Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc, with Starc now reportedly recovered from his groin injury. Cummins’ absence in the second ODI was primarily due to a rest strategy.
Australia’s pace attack in the third ODI and the World Cup is expected to be spearheaded by the trio of Cummins, Starc, and Josh Hazlewood. Additionally, Mitchell Marsh, who was rested, is likely to make a return, as is Marcus Stoinis.
Glenn Maxwell’s availability remains a question mark as he missed the first two games due to an ankle injury. His inclusion in the XI for the final ODI will be closely watched, given his importance in Australia’s World Cup plans. Meanwhile, Travis Head’s unfortunate hand fracture has ruled him out of the first half of the World Cup, according to reports.
For India, the return of star players like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, and Jasprit Bumrah is anticipated in the playing XI for the final ODI. However, seven players – Shubman Gill, Shardul Thakur, Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna, Mukesh Kumar, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Axar Patel – will not feature in the third ODI.
Gill and Thakur have been given a well-deserved rest, while Axar’s recovery from injury is still underway. The remaining players were part of the squad in the initial two ODIs. Axar’s absence means that R Ashwin is likely to receive another opportunity, following his impressive performance of 3/41 in the second ODI.
As we delve into the statistics of the venue, the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot has seen a total of three ODIs, with all three games won by the team batting first. The average first innings score stands at 311, while the second innings average hovers around 290. The highest total recorded at this venue is 340/6 (50 overs) by India against Australia, while the lowest total stands at 304/10 (49.1 overs) by Australia against India. The lowest successfully defended score is 270/7 (50 overs) by South Africa against India.
In the realm of predictions, the spotlight falls on the top run-scorers and wicket-takers. For Australia, eyes are on David Warner or Mitchell Marsh to lead the run-scoring charts, while Adam Zampa or Pat Cummins are likely to be key in the wicket-taking department. For India, Shreyas Iyer or Shubman Gill could emerge as top run-scorers, while R Ashwin or Jasprit Bumrah may be the go-to bowlers.
With India commanding a 2-0 lead in the series, they enter the third ODI as favorites to complete a clean sweep over Australia, setting the stage for a compelling clash ahead of the World Cup.