There was a time in the 1990s, when all that the opponents of India had to do was to win the toss and make India chase. After that, Indian batsmen would find various ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory! Things have changed since then. After the emergence of Dhoni, Yuvi and Virat, India have become one of the best (if not the best!) chasing teams in World cricket. In fact, the current team prefers to chase than set a target!
In continuation with this trend, the Indian team chased down the modest target of 237 with six wickets in hand. The chase, though was comfortable at the end, looked tough when India were 99 for 4 in the middle of the innings. The pitch had variable bounce for the quick bowlers, particularly with the newish ball. Once the ball got old, batting became easy and the Indian duo of Kedar and Dhoni took them home to a comfortable win.
What worked and What didn’t?
As we have seen over all of 2018 and now in 2019, bowling has been the leading edge of this Indian team. The ability to pick wickets through the innings has been the clear difference between this Indian team and the one that played under Dhoni.
Shami and Jadeja were the pick of the bowlers today, closely followed by Kuldeep. Even since his come back to the ODI unit, Shami has bowled brilliantly, picking up wickets whenever he has been called in. The way he beat a well set Glenn Maxwell to knock his stumps off, showed his exemplary skill with the ball. With his recent string of fantastic performances, Shami has all but replaced Bhuvi as the No.2 bowler in the ODI unit. However, the best bowler on view today was Ravi Jadeja. Jadeja rarely bowled a loose ball and choked up the runs in the middle overs. This allowed Virat to bring in his wicket taking bowlers at the other end and attack the Aussies. This created the pressure which eventually broke the middle of the Aussies.
Kuldeep started off ordinarily, but soon got into his groove. The way he beat Handscomb in the flight and got him stumped was a thing of beauty. However, Kuldeep will want to learn to bowl to Maxwell better. Maxi picked him extremely well and kept hitting him to the extra cover boundary against the spin.
The less I say about Vijay Shankar’s bowling, the better it is. He is that friendly bowler, who bowls at the ideal hittable pace and gifts a couple of half trackers every over to keep the batsman happy. Every time Vijay bowled, Indian supporters must have been busy praying for it to get over with least amount of punishment! I guess Bhuvi should take his place and Jadeja should continue.
Virat will certainly lose his sleep over the form of Dhawan. Dhawan is a key player for India at the top of the order and his left-handedness brings the much-needed variation in this batting line up. In the recent matches, he has looked terribly out of touch. Today, he played an innocuous delivery straight into the hands of the cover point fielder!
Rohit and Virat looked in reasonably good touch. But, the Aussie bowling made scoring difficult for them. The newer balls helped the Aussie fast bowlers get variable bounce from the pitch and keep the Indians quiet. The impact could be seen in the high percentage of dot balls that they bowled to Rohit and Virat. Soon, India had a mini collapse losing three wickets for less than 20 runs.
When Dhoni and Kedar joined together, India were at 99 for 4 and 237 looked a long way away. Kedar and Dhoni combined to play with intelligence and paced the chase perfectly. Kedar and Dhoni seem to have a special bond between them, which is quite evident on the field, whether Kedar is bowling with Dhoni behind the wickets or Kedar is batting with Dhoni. They seem to work out their own plans and get the job done for Virat. After taking some time at the start, the duo played unperturbed throughout the rest of the chase. India never looked in trouble and it really didn’t get into one at the end either.
A series against India must be a never-ending nightmare for Finch. He must dread the color blue having been hounded out by the Indian bowlers, since the first test in Adelaide. Here again, Australia started with the customary loss of Finch’s wicket in the second over.
Khawaja and Stoinis steadied the Aussie ship facing rough winds from the high quality opening bowling of Bumrah and Shami. However, the introduction of Vijay Shankar and Kuldeep into the attack, saw them cut loose and increase the scoring rate rapidly. After the batting duo got out, Maxwell and Handscomb combined to take the Aussie score forward.
Maxwell looked in glorious touch. I will remember his shots over extra cover, whether they were in this match or in the earlier T20s, for a very long time. I would rate those on par with VVS Laxman’s inside out shots over extra cover against Warne in 2001.
After a mini batting collapse, Australia stared down the barrel at 173 for 6. However, Carey and Coulter-Nile rescued the Aussies from a complete collapse and took them to a decent total of 236. At the end of the innings, the experts on TV felt that the score was at least 20 runs short of the par score on that Hyderabad pitch.
Australian bowling has been excellent right through the Australian summer and in this short limited overs series. Pat Cummins, as usual, was the stand out bowler, giving his all. Cummins troubled both Rohit and Virat with variable bounce.
Beherendoff bowled a lot to Rohit, who played him with a lot of caution. Beherendoff’s ability to bring the ball back into Rohit, kept Rohit on a tight leash. Aussies benefited by bowling plenty of dots at the Indian batsmen when these two bowlers operated.
Zampa started off well as well. However, as the ball got older, the bounce became even and stroke making became lot easier. None of the Aussies bowled poorly. But, their lack of bite with the old ball ensured that the fifth wicket partnership for India did not have to sweat a lot to keep the scorecard ticking.
At the end of the Indian innings, I was quite surprised at the lack of drama at any time during the fifth wicket partnership. Aaron Finch could have tried some aggressive tactics during the overs 35 to 40 to create some chances. He let the Indian fifth wicket duo milk his bowlers and keep the run rate close to the asking rate.
Yet another chase and yet another Indian win! Yet another chase anchored by Mahi and ably supported by his new ally, Kedar. Australia have a wretched ODI record since the start of 2018 and it is unlikely to improve until Smith and Warner return to the batting unit. Their batting unit has not been scoring big runs to help their efficient bowling finish off their opponents. In this age of 350+ scores, it is unlikely that this Aussie team will succeed with this kind of batting unit. Unless Smith and Warner return and find form immediately, this Aussie team will struggle to make it to the last four in the World Cup.
For detailed scorecard, please visit to Cricinfo