5 things that can help Australia win the 3rd ODI
Australia might be feeling the heat of 0-2 - and the humidity of Kolkata - as they have to win each of the remaining three games to win the series. But it'll not be an easy way to point fingers on exactly what went wrong in the two games, as Smith told the media.
The problems Australia faces aren't too concealed, as Smith might also have realised.
But the solutions have to come from within the available squad present- or in other words, be the ' quick fixes' to stop an infectious rot.
As his inexperienced side is on brink of a big series loss, when the Ashes is knocking at the door and when the noises of WC19 intensify, critics will be ready to scrutinize every single move by Steve Smith from hereon.
Here is a quick run through of the possible quick fixes for Australia to stage a comeback:
Travis Head as Warner's opening partner
The Hilton Cartwright experiment has failed big time as he managed to score only 1 in both the games and was bowled by Indian pacers early in his innings. Ex-cricketer Ed Cowan had not minced any words in criticizing the move and questioning if the national side was a 'developmental squad'.
What hasn't helped the cause has been Warner's dry run so far, translating into big opening problems for the visitors ever since Finch's injury created this void.
Now, Australia will have to hope Warner finds form quickly and meanwhile, try bringing in the dashing Travis Head into the slot as a stopgap arrangement till Finch returns. Head is someone not unfamiliar with that opening slot, and his style of play would help Australia make most of the first Powerplay.
In the Kolkata game, Head showed signs of his purple patch with some powerful shots on both sides of the square, before getting out to a harmless full toss.
Bringing Handscomb for Cartwright in middle order
With Travis Head in top, Handscomb could be the calming effect Smith desperately seeks in the middle order, which has collapsed like ninepins- especially at Eden Gardens.
Bringing Handscomb - already a regular number 4 for Australia in tests - at number 4 in limited format would mean tasking him with the job he is good at- rotating strike and seeing off the spinners.
It would also mean the top four of Head, Warner, Smith, Handscomb- a more stable order to handle chaos.
Although this would also have a caveat- three left handers out of top four, something the young chinaman sensation Kuldeep won't mind, as his conventional delivery would turn away from the left handers and the googly would be dangerous to evade-creating more LBW and bowled opportunities.
Not to forget, two out of his three hat-trick wickets were left handers. Having said that, Smith will be lured to try Handscomb for the air of composure he badly needs.
Setting Zampa on attack mode
Dropping Adam Zampa after him being on the receiving end of Pandya's sixes was a tad unfair. As India have realised of late, wrist-spinners are game turners in the limited format. Although, on their way to get those crucial wickets, they might leak some runs here and there. If Australia wants to come back hard, Zampa has to be in the scheme of things.
Smith might be worried by the small size of Holkar stadium, where the mis-hits can travel across the ropes. On small grounds, it could be a run-fest if someone gets going-especially someone like Rohit or Pandya.
To check the rate of runs, taking wickets will become extremely crucial and, Agar - a left arm spinner who banks on accuracy-can't be his primary spin weapon as India would happily play him around for singles in the middle period.
Solving the Maxwell-Faulkner problem
It's a tricky thing to carry the baggage of reputations. Both Maxwell and Faulkner have had good run against India in the past but Smith would be keeping an eye on their current contributions. Credit to Maxwell, who picked up Kuldeep quite well but lost his wicket as soon as he looked promising in Chennai. At 5, he has evolve his role-to do more than looking for the boundaries- and learn to play according to the situation.
Maxwell had recently made a comeback after a phase in which he found himself dropped from even the Sheffield side. Another failed attempt could mean Australian selectors would stop expecting electrifying Maxwell shows and move on for a fresh contender. Smith should probably have a word with Maxwell to identify his role in the batting order-and if needed, play Stoinis above Maxwell.
The Fading Wade
Matthew Wade has been in limelight even before this series and he has done no good by racking up scores of 9 and a golden duck in the first two games. His wicket-keeping skills have been sharp so far but his bat has gone quiet. The selectors are already trying options- as they suggested by naming Tim Paine for the T20is. Interestingly, in the exhaustive opening options list of Smith, Wade might also be a name somewhere. If he moves back to his earlier position of opening the innings- as he did sometime back for Australia- his career might see a second coming.
As of now, another failed game in Indore would make the road difficult for Wade. To help make the most of his powerful strokeplay, Smith might probably have to ask Handscomb to take wicket-keeping gloves to include an extra batsman, if things go downhill