R Ashwin will hope to get picked for the fourth ODI against Australia, after MS Dhoni left the off-spinner out of the third match, which India lost by three wickets.
From being near unplayable against South Africa, Ashwin was brought right back down the earth by the Australia batsmen in this ODI series, which India have already lost. With little spin on offer and the likes of Steve Smith and George Bailey seeing the ball like a basketball, Ashwin was on the receiving end of a few tonkings in the first couple of matches, prompting Dhoni to reconsider the makeup of his team.
Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Rishi Dhawan were given their debuts for India in the third ODI, forcing Dhoni to drop Ashwin to the bench to restore some balance into the side. With Dhawan and Gurkeerat capable of bowling ten overs between them – not on their own, though – the India skipper had little choice but to leave Ashwin out of the side, with Manish Pandey also a unlucky to be dropped.
It might not have been a great decision in hindsight, as the ball gripped and turned a little in the second innings in Melbourne. Those would have been ideal conditions for Ashwin to finally assert his dominance over the Aussies in Australia.
With the pitch at the Manuka Oval in Canberra also expected to be on the slower side, Ashwin might return to the playing XI, probably for Rishi Dhawan, who could not make an impact with bat or ball in the last match. If Ashwin is picked, he will be backed to bowl all ten overs, which means Pandey might also fancy his chances of playing another ODI for India.
However, Gurkeerat, who also did not make an auspicious start to international cricket, might be given another opportunity, especially if Dhoni believes the pitch could assist the slower bowlers. Gurkeerat also has the ability to crank it up in the final overs, something that India sorely lack at the moment. Axar Patel, even if he might be similar to Ravindra Jadeja, is another option, although his batting down the order is still quite unconvincing.
The pace department could use a little freshening up, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will hope to play, probably at the expense of Barinder Sran, who was expensive in the third match.
Australia will also make a few changes to their team, with David Warner returning from paternity leave. While Shaun Marsh has taken his opportunity with two half-centuries, the left-hander is likely to make way for Warner.
Nathan Lyon is another player who should get an opportunity, having been named in the squad for the final two ODIs. One of the pacers Scott Boland or Kane Richardson could sit out to open up the place for Lyon.
Expected lineups: India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (C), Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav.
Australia: Aaron Finch, David Warner, Steve Smith (C), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner, John Hastings, Kane Richardson, Nathan Lyon.