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India to keep targeting Australia openers in series decider

MELBOURNE: India will continue to target Australia’s under-pressure openers Alex Carey and Aaron Finch as they seek to add a One-day International rubber win to their first-ever Test series victory in the third and final match in Melbourne on Friday.

Carey and Finch’s best opening partnership in the first two matches of the series is the 20 runs they achieved in Adelaide on Tuesday.

Carey, the team’s vice-captain, has scored a total of 42 runs while captain Finch has tallied just 12 and been bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar in both games of the series, which is locked at 1-1.

Finch was also dropped from the Test squad after he struggled in that series and India have concentrated on the 32-year-old, who has 11 One-day International centuries and two in Twenty20 Internationals.

“We respect that Finch is a great player … we make sure our guard is up always,” Indian opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan told reporters at the Melbo­urne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Thursday. “The boys must have seen his weak­ness and they are implementing their plans quite nicely. They’re not giving him singles that easily or even boundary options.

“Once you’re creating that pressure to a batsman, especially in limited overs, that batsman is going to do something extra or take more risk to rotate the strike or to score more runs. That’s where we’re having the opportunity.”

Dhawan added that the pressure the bowlers were placing on the Australians at the top of the order meant they were not capitalising on the fielding restrictions during the first 10-over power-play.

Australia slumped to 41-2 in 9.5 overs in the first game in Sydney, while they were 38-2 after 10 overs in the second match in Adelaide, although that total was only boosted by scoring 11 runs in the 10th.

“Bhuvi [Kumar] is very experienced as well as [Mohammed] Shami,” Dhawan said. “That’s why in the first 10 overs we have been dominating.”

Finch, however, said he had been reviewing footage of his dismissals in the series and comparing it to more successful periods, which has contributed to 3,430 One-day Inter­national runs at an average of 36.88.

“Maybe I’ve been too tentative in the last couple of games, letting a bit of pressure build up,” Finch said. “It’s always a fine balance between attack and hanging in there and waiting for the right time to be aggressive and take on the game. I still feel that I’m a very good player … 13 international hundreds suggests that I do know what’s required.”

Meanwhile, Finch is pleased with Nathan Lyon’s despite the wily off-spinner failing to take a wicket in the one-day series.

Lyon, 31, is Australia’s undisputed first-choice Test spinner, having played 84 matches and taken 339 wickets since his debut against Sri Lanka in 2011.

However, he has struggled to have the same impact in limited overs cricket and played just 17 ODIs. Until playing two matches in England last year he had not featured in the one-day team for almost two years.

Finch said he was pleased with the contributions from Lyon, who along with leg-spinner Adam Zampa and left-arm spinner Ashton Agar are likely to vie for the slow bowling role at the World Cup later this year.

“I thought the way Gaz [Lyon] has bowled has been really impressive,” Finch said while adding that he was being asked to play a more containing role and was therefore bowling flatter and more defensively.

While Lyon has conceded 5.45 runs per over from both games, he has bowled a significant number of dot balls in each match.

In Sydney he bowled 35 dot balls, but was hit for four sixes. In Adelaide he bowled 26 dot balls, but conceded three sixes and a four.

All of the sixes were hit off flighted deliveries when he was trying to attack more, and Finch said the quality of the Indian lineup was a major factor in that.

“He has bowled really well quite defensively, which I think for his role was pretty important,” Finch said. “Anytime the ball’s been tossed up … he’s bowling against some pretty world-class [batsmen] … some all-timers, really. “When he keeps bowling that well he will get rewarded eventually.”

Finch added that pace bowler Jason Behrendorff was under an injury cloud for the match due to a stiff back and a decision might not be made on the left-armer’s availability until Friday.

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