India vs England on Friday – a winner take all match it is going to be for a place in the final of the tri-series against Australia.
A damp squib on Australia Day/Republic Day Monday between India and Australia in Sydney meant a share of the points for the two teams, and with the home team already locking their place in the final even before their final league match, it will now be a straight showdown between England and India when the two teams meet in four days at the WACA.
Rain delayed the start of play by nearly an hour in the morning, with George Bailey, returning to the side as captain, deciding to bowl first under cloudy conditions.
It was business as usual as far as the opening for India was concerned, with Shikhar Dhawan (8, 13b) getting that oh-so-predictable outside edge off the bowling of Mitchell Starc to put his team in early trouble.
Ambati Rayudu (23, 24b, 2x4, 1x6) was again sent in at No.3, and after a few "now that is weird" shots from the right-hander, he perished as well, skewing one to the offside off Mitchell Marsh for David Warner to complete a catch running back – it was a tremendous take from the Aussie fielder and his celebration with a fist-pump at the Indian fans, who had given him plenty of grief until then, on that side of the ground was the most exciting act of the day.
Virat Kohli only faced a few deliveries, before rain came down heavily and this time for good – or at least long enough for the umpires to call of the game at around 8 pm local time (2.30 pm IST, 9 am GMT). India were on 69/2 in 16 overs with Kohli (3, 9b) and Ajinkya Rahane (28, 50b, 2x4) at the crease when play was officially called off after a long "can we, can't we get some play today" delay.
India and Australia shared two points each from the abandoned match, putting the latter on 13 points from their four matches. India picked up their first two points of the tri-series, and with England on five points after their three games, it means the winner of the contest in Perth next Friday will move into the finale, which is scheduled to be played at the same ground on Sunday.
Another abandonment and India will be knocked out with England facing Australia in the final.
Dhawan will count himself an extremely lucky man if he is given another opportunity after his woeful, predictable batting performances over the last couple of months, while MS Dhoni, who had welcomed Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja back into the team for the first time in this tri-series, might want to think about holding Kohli back at No.4.
Too many times, India have been right behind the eight ball when Kohli has come in, when if he had come in one place earlier, he might have been able to do something about Dhawan losing his wicket early time and again.