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Can Sharma deliver again and lead India to a win in 2nd ODI?

Second ODI – 1:20pm local time on Friday, January 15, 2015 at the Gabba, Brisbane

$1.36 at
ICC ranking: 1st
ODI form: W L L W W

$3.50 at
ICC ranking: 2nd
ODI form: W L W L L

If ever there was a case to be made about modern cricket pitches being too batter-friendly, Tuesday’s ODI clash at Perth provided the perfect example.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, India posted a very respectable 309 on the back of a 207-run stand between Rohit Sharma (171 not out) and Virat Kohli (91).

They looked to be in the driver’s seat after debutant Barinder Sran knocked over Aaron Finch and David Warner early, leaving Australia in a precarious position at 2/21.

But Aussie captain Steven Smith (149) and George Bailey (112) righted the ship in imperious fashion, prodding and scampering their way to a record third-wicket partnership of 242.

Neither quite managed to see the vessel all the way into harbour, but Mitchell Marsh and James Faulkner did enough at the end to secure a five-wicket victory with four balls remaining.

India’s decision to play two specialist spinners at the WACA backfired horribly, with neither Ravichandran Ashwin (2/68 off nine overs) nor Ravindra Jadeja (0/61 off nine overs) able to put any real pressure on Smith and Bailey.

MS Dhoni and company may want to alter their strategy for the second ODI at Brisbane, which is also tipped to be a batsman’s paradise.

With Mohammed Shami out of the series through injury, Ishant Sharma would be the obvious inclusion if India were to bolster their pace stocks.

That could leave the visitors a little light on batting, however, as Sharma would most likely replace either Jadeja or Ashwin – both very capable runscorers in the lower order.

One man who won’t be able to cash in at the Gabba is Aussie opener Warner, who has taken paternity leave for the next two matches as he prepares for the birth of his second child.

His place in the squad will be taken by Usman Khawaja, who has shown career-best touch in both Test matches and the T20 Big Bash League throughout the summer.

“Usman has been in fantastic form this season and was unlucky to miss out on a place in our squad for the series in the first place,” Australia’s chief selector, Rod Marsh, told the press.

“This call-up is a reward for that form and it is great to have someone of his quality to step into the squad in David’s absence.

“We wish both David and Candice well and look forward to welcoming David back into the squad when circumstances allow.”

Whether Khawaja gets a start at Brisbane remains to be seen, as Shaun Marsh – already part of the 13-man Australia squad – would appear to be first in line to fill Warner’s shoes at the top of the order.

The inexperienced Aussie pace attack could also be rejigged after pundits criticised the lack of variety between Josh Hazlewood, Joel Paris, Scott Boland, James Faulkner and Mitch Marsh.

Either Boland or Paris – both of whom went wicketless on their international debuts on Tuesday – could make way for the quicker Kane Richardson, who hasn’t featured for Australia since 2014.

Australia vs. India ODI teams

Possible Australia XI: Shaun Marsh, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith (C), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner, Joel Paris, Kane Richardson, Josh Hazlewood.

Possible India XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (C), Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Barinder Sran.

Match predictions

Result – Australia to win ($1.36 at Luxbet)
Most match sixes – India ($2.54 at
Highest first 15 overs – India ($2.35 at Luxbet)

Have India learned from their mistakes at the WACA?

While 309 was a competitive total, the general consensus was that Rohit and Kohli, with nine wickets in hand, could have pushed much harder through the latter-middle overs.

They were ultimately outplayed by the Aussie duo of Smith and Bailey, who paced their innings superbly and created constant scoring opportunities despite hitting relatively few boundaries.

It will also be interesting to see whether or not India persist with the two spinners.

The visitors have some serious firepower in their top six, so getting runs shouldn’t be a huge problem against a rather green and samey Australian bowling attack.

However, the hosts showed on Tuesday exactly why they are world champions, and one suspects no total is beyond them when Smith is on song.

Rohit Sharma betting markets

If you don’t get this guy out early on, you can expect to be chasing balls all day long.

Remarkably, Rohit’s 171 not out on Tuesday was not even close to his highest score in One Day Internationals.

He is the only player in world cricket to have notched two ODI double centuries: 209 against Australia in 2013, and a mind-boggling 264 against Sri Lanka the following year.

The 28-year-old from Nagpur seems to find another gear when playing the Aussies, against whom he has scored four of his nine hundreds in 50-over internationals.

Consistency has not always been Sharma’s strongpoint, but another monster score could be on the cards if he gets off to a solid start again at Brisbane.

R Sharma to top score for India
$4.33 at Bet365

R Sharma to top score for the match
$6 at Sportsbet

R Sharma for man of the match
$11 at Bet365

Australia vs. India fixtures and results

First ODI – Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at Perth – Australia won by five wickets

Second ODI – Friday, January 15, 2016 at Brisbane

Third ODI – Sunday, January 17, 2016 at Melbourne

Fourth ODI – Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at Canberra

Fifth ODI – Saturday, January 23, 2016 at Sydney

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