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Last Updated Thursday April 19 2018 03:11 PM IST

India hope to finish series strongly

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Shastri and Dhoni Indian head coach Ravi Shastri, left, has a word with M.S. Dhoni during a training session in Nagpur on Saturday. PTI

Nagpur: Stopping a resurgent Australia would not be easy, but a confident India would look to end the series on a high when they clash in the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI), here on Sunday.

The series already secured, India got the opportunity to test their bench strength in the fourth ODI. But the team fell short by 21 runs, halting their nine-match winning run.

All three bowlers - Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Axar Patel - proved expensive in their first game of the series.

Virat Kohli defended the bowling performance that allowed Australia to post 334 for five but said the batsmen could have done better on a batting beauty.

So, it won't be a surprise if Kohli gives his reserves bowlers another game on Sunday and more rest to Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav.

"We have won the series and you have to try out guys at some stage. You need to test your bench strength as well and you need to give those guys game time," said Kohli post the defeat in Bengaluru.

On the batting front, K.L. Rahul may get a game as he remains the only batsman in the squad to not have played in the series so far.

The team management will have to reassess their plans for the remaining game as both sides would want to end the series on a high and carry the momentum into the three T20s contest beginning in Ranchi on October 7.

Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane had set up a perfect platform in Bengaluru with a second straight century partnership, but the middle order could not capitalize on that.

Hardik Pandya being promoted to No. 4 worked brilliantly in Indore, but did not yield a similar return on Thursday.

Pandya's promotion led to M.S. Dhoni being dropped to No. 7 and the former captain hardly got time to get his eye-in before going ballistic, something he prefers doing nowadays with his big hitting power on the wane.

Coming to bat ahead of Dhoni, Pandya and Kedar Jadhav got enough time to close out the game but they were unable to do the finishing job.

Pressure is mounting on Manish Pandey who is yet to score a half-century in the series. He got out at the wrong time at his home ground and Dhoni was left to do all by himself towards the end of the chase.

Australia had their chances even in the earlier games, but they could only grab them in Bengaluru.

It was a much needed all-round performance that saw bowlers complementing the good work done by the batsmen.

The pace trio of Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson bowled with pace and precision in the death overs to take the game away from the Indians.

The batting looks a lot more potent ever since the return of Aaron Finch, who came up with a fine 94 after a sublime 124 on his comeback game.

His opening partner David Warner too had a memorable game as he rose to the occasion to smash 124 in his 100th ODI in Bengaluru.

It remains to be seen if Australia bring back the struggling Glenn Maxwell, who was dropped in the last game with wicketkeeper Matthew Wade taking his place.

The other wicketkeeper in the squad, Peter Handscomb, did rather well with a timely 43 off 30 balls take his team well beyond 300.

The teams (from): India: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, M.S. Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Axar Patel and Lokesh Rahul.

Australia: Steven Smith (capt), David Warner, Hilton Cartwright, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar, Kane Richardson, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, James Faulkner and Adam Zampa.

Match begins at 1.30 pm IST

Read also: More Sports NewsAll top Indian cricketers are from Goa: Parrikar

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