x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dhoni looks for improvement in the field

India need a win at Guwahati to stay alive in the series and avoid the embarrassment of losing to Australia in their backyard.

It is said that "knowledge is power" and India know only too well that they must display resilience and efficiency in today's make-or-break sixth one-day international if they are to prevent an injury-ravaged yet impressive Australian team from clinching the series in Guwahati. Ricky Ponting watched his depleted team take a 3-2 lead on Thursday, resulting in Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his team needing a victory today and in the last rubber in Mumbai on Wednesday if they are to dethrone the Baggy Greens of their top ODI ranking.

The Australians' win in Hyderabad was especially memorable because they managed to restrict the hosts with a second-string bowling attack - despite Sachin Tendulkar stroking a masterful 175. Brett Lee, James Hopes, Tim Paine and Peter Siddle were joined by Moises Henriques on the sidelines before Wednesday's fifth match. They were already missing Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Nathan Bracken and Callum Ferguson.

"When you take all those things into consideration, the way we are continuing to improve our cricket is fantastic," said Ponting on Wednesday evening. India, in contrast, are facing questions regarding their dedication and desire to succeed. "Commitment" has been a word whispered around the Nehru Stadium since the teams arrived on Friday and India's players can expect a backlash if they fail to meet the expectations of their fervent followers.

The home side have lost just two bilateral series since 2006 - the last coming against Australia in 2007 - and they will look to maintain their impressive record against the world's No 1 team this week. History, though, is not on their side: India have failed to beat the visitors since 1986. "We have two more games to go and that's what count now," said Dhoni yesterday. "Whatever has happened has happened. You cannot change much about it. It's important to concentrate on what lies ahead and stay fresh mentally."

The India captain said the hosts would look for an improved fielding display while maintaining their fine form with the bat. @Email:gmeenaghan@thenational.ae