India's bowlers, who gave away over 300 runs in the first ODI, will be in focus as the hosts try to bring the seven-match series level at 1-1. (BCCI Images)
After leaking 505 runs in 70 overs bowled to Australia over the last week, India will have to find a quick-fix that can check the run-splurge critical to their chances of drawing level in the second ODI at Jaipur on Friday.
Australia stroked 201 and 304 runs in the one-off T20 and first ODI respectively, which erased all doubts hanging above their batting before the start of the series, while bringing fresh question marks over India's bowling that has come under the weather.
The most experience of Indian bowlers - Ishant Sharma and R Ashwin - have been the chief culprits causing this hemorrhage that the other bowlers found too much to control in the end. While the Indian batsmen hid their shortcomings to win the T20, Australian bowlers got their act together to script a 72-run win in Pune.
India's batting too was a big letdown in Pune and Dhoni concurred, blaming "poor shot selection". From a point where the match looked even at 137 for 2 in the 28th over, unwarranted shots caused the downfall for a majority of batsmen and there was no significant partnership after that to bring India back.
Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner bowled with purpose, using short-pitched stuff to rattle the batsmen, and captain George Bailey later admitted that Johnson trying to intimidate the Indians with pace and bounce was part of their plan.
That means MS Dhoni and Co. were outplayed in each department in the first one-dayer. But while the batsmen are expected to restore sanity easily on batting-friendly tracks, it's the bowlers that worry India.
Virat Kohli has said that it won't be right to drop Ishant after just two games. But Dhoni may not agree with that as Jaydev Unadkat and Mohammad Shami are available in the dug-out. Considering Ishant's two spells of (0 for 52 in 4 overs) and (1 for 56 in 7), Dhoni will feel pushed to bring in Shami, which won't be out of logic.
It's hard to see Ashwin getting dropped despite two bad games, and Vinay Kumar, who gave away 68 runs for one wicket at Pune, should also survive the axe on the premise of 'an off day'.
It's also hard to see Dhoni dropping any batsmen after just one bad outing, which also means that Suresh Raina will continue to bat at No. 4 as part of Dhoni's policy to prepare a back-up for Yuvraj leading up to the 2015 World Cup. However, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma will have to produce the goods after two poor starts of 12 (in the T20) and 26 (in the Pune ODI).
On the other hand, Australia have batted with a lot of purpose and been aggressive at the same time. Despite two average performances by Shane Watson, others have risen to the task.
Opener Phil Highes and Aaron Finch provided a century start in Pune, which laid the foundation for the middle order. Glen Maxwell played a cameo and skipper George Bailey played the innings of the match scoring 85 off just 82 balls to help Australia cross the 300-run mark.
After failing to defend 201 in the T20, Australia's bowlers bowled to a plan in the first ODI. James Faulkner (3 for 47) was the pick of the bowlers and was well supported by the rest of the cast. Johnson intimidated the Indian batsmen and also returned economical figures of 1 for 38 in 10 overs. Watson and Clint McKay bowled intelligently, bringing variation into play that never allowed Indian batsmen to settle. Both picked up a couple of wickets each. Xavier Doherty was the only bowler who went for some runs, giving away 54 in his 10 overs.
Contrary to the perception before the start of the series, the Australians look pretty focused, but the series is just one-match old, and any side drawing conclusions at this nascent stage will be like shooting itself in the foot.
India: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 MS Dhoni, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Vinay Kumar, 11 Mohammad Shami / Ishant Sharma
Australia: 1 Phil Highes, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Shane Watson, 4 George Bailey, 5 Adam Voges, 6 Glen Maxwell, 7 Brad Haddin, 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Xavier Doherty