India, interestingly, are yet to win a One-day International at this venue in two previous attempts. They lost to England by nine runs in 2013 and to South Africa by 18 runs in 2015.
The hosts however, will take heart from the fact that opener Rohit Sharma sent the Bangladeshi bowlers on a leather hunt in a T20I game not too long back. If Rohit can fire again, it will help mask the confusion that has marred India’s middle-order combinations in this format of late.
The primary problem is deciding Virat Kohli’s place, since all the others tend to bat around him. The experiment to play Kohli at No. 4 at the Wankhede — in a bid to accommodate both KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan — backfired in the first ODI and India are unlikely to continue the same line of reasoning.
Back at his usual No. 3 position, Kohli is in sight of a major milestone: a century here and he will go past Ricky Ponting’s record of scoring the most centuries across formats as captain. Both are currently tied on 41.
With Rishabh Pant ruled out of the Rajkot encounter with concussion, the hosts will have the option of adding either the experienced Kedar Jadhav or Manish Pandey — who impressed in the third T20I against Sri Lanka in Pune — at No. 6. KL Rahul will continue keeping wickets and it will be a toss-up between Iyer and Rahul for the No. 4 slot.
It will be interesting to see if India think left field and go back to the effective ‘KulCha’ leg-spin combination and get Yuzvendra Chahal in to partner Kuldeep Yadav. Chahal missed the first match in Mumbai, in which the hosts played five bowlers.
On the bowling front, India will be keen to get past the powerhouse Aussie opening combination of David Warner (128 not out) and Aaron Finch (110 not out), who smashed brilliant centuries and shared a record opening-wicket partnership at the Wankhede. There is also the likelihood of Navdeep Saini replacing Shardul Thakur, who looked off-colour in the opening game.
“We can still make a strong comeback. We need to have the belief,’’ Shreyas Iyer, who had a rare failure at the Wankhede, said on Thursday. “It was just one of those matches where our middle order did not perform well.”
Incidentally, dew is anticipated and the team winning the toss might opt to field first in Rajkot.