There is something about an India vs Australia ODI in Mohali. In 2013, Ishant Sharma bowled that infamous over to Faulkner and gave away 30 runs. Yesterday, on a similar road of a pitch, India helped Australia unearth another ‘ner’, this time a Tur’ner’. Ashton Turner, played a dream innings of 86 runs from 43 balls, to take Australia from a difficult position to winning the game on a canter. Australia beat India by 4 wickets to level the 5 ODI series, 2-2.
A word has to be said about the pronounced weakness in this Indian ODI unit. If there is a road of a pitch on offer, India lacks the firepower with the bat to win it, particularly when they bat first. These days, on such pitches, teams prefer to pack themselves with big hitters and go hell for leather from ball 1. This intent has opened the path for teams to score 400+ scores fairly regularly. I still remember the prophetic words of Bob Woolmer, who spoke about 400+ runs being possible in ODIs, long back in the mid 2000s. However, this Indian team lacks hitting ability in their middle and lower order. This is why the potent top 3 of India are not able to take risks from ball 1.So, India ends up scoring much less than what they should while batting first. Thankfully, while chasing, they don’t have the option to hold back, as your target is set by the other team and you have to go for it.
Coming back to this match at Mohali, apart from the above weakness, there is one other aspect of the Indian game that has been slipping off-late. This is their fielding. The catching and ground fielding was horrible at Mohali, with sitters being dropped. This trend has been visible since the time, Virat started packing his team with wicket keepers galore. I hope after this experimentation phase is over, Virat goes with one wicket keeper, who stands behind the wickets. Catches win matches, Pant can’t field.
What worked and what didn’t?
India scored a massive 358 runs of their allotted 50 overs. However, this could have been lot higher, but for the flurry of wickets towards the end. In today’s ODI cricket, the Indian bottom order must rank the last in its ability to hold the bat. This will continue to be the Achilles heal for the team in the World Cup.
Shikar’s return to form must have pleased Virat, considering that the top 3 have been critical for India’s ODI fortunes over the last few years. Rohit is due for a big score in ODIs and Virat will hope that he will hit form during the World cup. If India has to rake up 400s in England, Rohit has to fire.
Apart from the above issues, the Indian batting unit pretty much did their job on the day.
It is on the field, with bowling and fielding, that India lost the plot in Mohali. Form of Bhuvi and Chahal will be the big worry for Virat. Chahal has been a pale shadow of himself for the past many limited overs matches. He seems to be in a hurry and his trajectory has become flat. Where is that courageous leggie, who would toss-up every delivery, even in T20 games?
Bhuvi’s case has been a mystery. Since returning from his injury, Bhuvi’s bowling form has been up and down. Shami’s elevation in the ODI scheme of things, has denied Bhuvi consistent match practice as well. Virat will hope that Bhuvi finds form during the IPL and returns to the Indian team as a confident bowler. When Bhuvi was bowling well in the 2017/2018, his length during the death overs was never short. Yesterday, Bhuvi bowled many half-trackers to Turner, who gleefully hit him to vacant areas on the leg side.
Apart from the worrying form of Bhuvi and Chahal, I won’t press the panic button on the Indian bowling. The team has enough reserves to replace them.
When the opposition scores 358 runs, the bowling unit would have had pretty much nothing going for it. Adam Zampa was the pick of the bowlers, as he managed to bowl a few quiet overs in the middle and came away with respectable bowling figures. Apart from him, Pat Cummins, my eternal favorite, picked up some crucial middle and lower order wickets to stop India from posting a score close to 400.
Until the Mohali game, I had my doubts on the ability of the Aussies to score or chase 350+ scores. I had commented on it in one of my previous articles. But in this game, they showed that they have the firepower in the middle to launch punishing attacks on hapless bowlers on flat tracks. Ashton Turner, Glen Maxwell and to some extent Alex Carey have impressed one and all during this series in India, with their ability to score at astonishing rates.
Khawaja and Handscomb have been very consistent in this series. They provided a solid platform in Mohali for the late order blitz from Turner. Handscomb’s century was well paced. His ability to play spin, makes him very effective as a middle order batsman for Australia. Even after the return of Smith and Warner, I hope to see Handscomb retaining his place at No.4. The returning duo should take the place of Finch and Marsh from the team that played in Mohali. This will make Australia a formidable batting unit in the World Cup. The only caveat is that Smith and Warner would return from the cold. Future has to play itself out.
Virat will be a dejected man after the Mohali ODI. India’s ODI success in 2017 and 2018 has been on the back of Kuldeep’s and Chahal’s ability to pick up wickets in the middle overs. One of his key weapons, Chahal, has been misfiring over the past many matches. This will certainly disturb his plans for the World Cup.
However, his biggest disappointment will be the poor display on the field. On flat pitches, one can’t afford to drop catches like the way this Indian team did on Sunday. One hopes that it was an aberration and the team will make amends in the coming matches.
As far as Australia is concerned, they will be very happy to have found a finisher in Turner. However, they will remember the old English proverb, One swallow does not make a summer. I still remember Turner struggling against spin bowling in one of the previous matches. So, unless the pitch is a road, I don’t think Australia have found a finisher in Turner. For now, they can celebrate this magnificent win. It was a truly astonishing performance from the men in gold and green!!
More details on the scorecard, please refer to Cricinfo