Brisbane, Jan 14: Stung by the defeat in the series opener despite putting up a big score, India will have to plug their bowling loopholes when they take on Australia in the second one-dayer here tomorrow, fully aware that any slip-up will make their task of bouncing back difficult.
Chasing an imposing 310, Australia romped home with ease by registering a comfotable five-wicket win to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series at Perth on Tuesday. (1st ODI report)
And at the Gabba tomorrow, the visitors would be hoping to make life difficult for Australia but for that to happen Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be expectiing a much-improved show from his bowlers.
The five bowlers India played proved to be inadequately short at the WACA, particularly the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who had a bad day in office.
For India, there is defintely scope for permutations and combinations among the old names. Lanky pacer Ishant Sharma is fit and available for selection. If Dhoni decides to go in with the same combination which he fielded in Perth, Ishant could come in for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
The WACA wicket was slower than expected, but the Gabba pitch is not expected to be similar which provides Dhoni enough reasons to contemplate going in with four pacers.
But the performance of his spin duo would be a concern for Dhoni going into tomorrow's match. Both Ashwin and Jadeja were off-colour in the series opener. While the former gave away 68 runs for two wickets from his nine overs, the latter too was expensive costing 61 runs from as many overs without any success. (Kohli set to break De Villiers' record)
And come tomorrow it will be interesting to see what kind of impact either Ashwin or Jadeja can make as they will look to shrug off the poor show in the previous game.
But consistency is something which Dhoni would look for from bowling attack. To add to it, Dhoni also does not have definitive part-time options to fall back upon.
Young left-arm pacer Barinder Sran, who made his debut in the last match, was the eye-catcher for India in the losing cause in Perth. He picked up three wickets giving away 56 runs and the tall Punjab pacer would be hoping for a repeat performance tomorrow.
India's other two fast bowlers - Bhuvneswar Kumar and Umesh Yadav were not that effective in Perth as both failed to make an impression. While Bhuvneswar was economical Yadav gave away some runs but both failed to trouble the Australian batsmen much.
The wicket for tomorrow's match should be more to the seamers' liking, not a green top definitely, but rather one with ample bounce and pace.
On the batting front, there isn't much to complain about for India. India rode on Rohit Sharma's unbeaten 171 and vice-captain Virat Kohli's 91 to post 309 runs on the board, a feat never achieved by an Indian team in three ODIs played previously in Perth.
And thus, it can be assumed that the batsmen will be asked to shoulder even more responsibility going ahead. But one of the criticism emanating from that loss in Perth was that Rohit and Kohli did not do enough to push the scoring rate towards the end.
There has been considerable talk about the top-three batsmen trying to do a bit more, in terms of strike-rate, especially if one or two of them get going like in Perth.
But it would be a little harsh to put the blame on the batsmen as Dhoni himself had said that 309 was a defendable score.
The Indians, however, would be wary about the form of Australian skipper Steven Smith. Chasing the imposing target, Australia rode on captain Smith's fluent 149 to script the comfortable win in Perth.
Smith turned out to be India's nemesis again, pacing his innings to perfection. His sequence of scores against the 'Men In Blue' across formats now reads: 162 not out, 52 not out, 133, 28, 192, 14, 117, 71, 47, 105, 149.
If the Indians were to win the ongoing five-match ODI series in Australia, the visitor's will have to find a way to dismiss Smith early.
George Bailey, another centurion for Australia with a 112-run knock in Perth, too would be hoping to carry on his form.
Australia, however, will be without th services of both David Warner and Mitchell Marsh, both of whom are unavailable for the second ODI.
While Warner is away on paternal leave, (was blessed with a second child early this morning), and will be rejoining the squad for the Melbourne ODI, Mitchell Marsh has been rested to manage his workload.
In Warner's absence, it provides a great opportunity for Mitchell's brother Shaun Marsh to sneak into the playing eleven.
In-form Usman Khawaja has also been called up to the squad in Warner's absence, and he will be part of the toss-up for the missing opener's spot as well.
John Hastings will come in to take the all-rounder's slot in the middle order, as Australia look set to go in with an all-pace attack once again.
Australia: Steve Smith (captain), Usman Khawaja, Aaron Finch, George Bailey, John Hastings, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Matthew Wade (wicketkeeper), Josh Hazlewood, Joel Paris, Scott Boland, Shaun Marsh, Kane Richardson.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Gurkeerat Mann, Rishi Dhawan, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Barinder Sran.
Match starts at 8.50 AM IST
3rd ODI in Melbourne on January 17 (Sunday) - 8.50 AM IST