India have won the second One Day International match against Australia to level the three match series 1-1. After a lackluster performance in SCG, the Indian team displayed their batting might today to chase down a stiff target of 299. Virat Kohli top-scored for India with a brilliant hundred and Shaun Marsh top-scored for the Aussies with an equally brilliant hundred.
If they win in MCG, India will be in a unique position of leaving Australia without losing any of the series. This has never happened before in a full India vs Australia series in Australia.
What worked and What didn’t?
Bhuvi’s performance was the big plus to come out of this match for India. Bhuvi has been India’s No.1 bowler in limited overs international matches for the past two years. After his come back from injury, he has been struggling with his pace and hasn’t been his usual self. That was until today’s game in Adelaide. Today, Bhuvi bowled brilliantly whenever he was summoned to bowl. His initial burst was economical and he got Finch’s wicket as well. However, his telling spell came towards the end of the Australian innings. Bhuvi mixed his pace and got important wickets towards the end, which prevented the Aussies from scoring 320+ runs. Virat will be very happy with his return to form, as Bhuvi will be a key member of India’s World cup squad.
Jadeja bowled well considering the nature of the pitch and the short square boundaries. Shami bowled an impressive first spell; but his bowling towards the end was taken for runs. Mohammed Siraj did not have a good outing on debut. He seemed to be bowling without a plan and the Aussie batsmen took him to the cleaners. However, the biggest disappointment of the day was Kuldeep Yadav. Kuldeep struggled with both length and line. Hopefully, this is was a one-off problem and that he would make amends in MCG.
India’s batting came good today, chasing a big target. The great aspect of this chase was that India did not lose wickets in clusters at all. Shikar Dawan gave the initial impetus and got the team off to a good start. Rohit and Virat carried the momentum forward. Then, Virat, Rayudu, Dhoni and Karthik strung important partnerships to lead the team to victory. The chase was clinical!
Virat played brilliantly to get his 39th hundred in ODIs. The man is a genius and nobody chases a total better than him in contemporary cricket. Watching him on TV, he looked a bit tired; may be due to the impact of a long series or due to the oppressive Adelaide heat. But, he displayed his indefatigable spirit to score an important century for the team.
Dhoni was pilloried by everyone for not scoring fast in the previous match at SCG. Today, Dhoni played his typical finishing innings. If one looked at Dhoni’s innings from the past, they will notice that he starts a bit slow and scores his initial runs in singles and twos. It is only towards the end does he hit those big sixers and fours to help his strike rate catch up. In the previous game in SCG, the second part of his game was snuffed out. However in Adelaide, he managed to stick around till the end and scored those important boundaries in the last five overs to ensure that India won the match comfortably. Dhoni coming good in the middle order is of great importance for India. It may even be the deciding factor in how far India goes in the World Cup in England.
Dinesh Karthik is making a good habit of winning games for India in crunch situations. Ever since that Nidhas trophy finals, Karthik’s confidence and performance have gone up tremendously. He could be an important player in the middle order for India in the World Cup.
Australia put up a very good batting performance until they lost a flurry of wickets towards the end of their innings. In a game played on tight margins, that little slip up proved to be the difference between India chasing a score of 325 vs India’s actual chase of 299. However, most of the pundits reckoned that 299 was very good target and felt that India would find it difficult to chase in Adelaide.
Shaun Marsh played the innings of match for Australia. His 130 odd was full of high quality strokes, against both spin and seam. Some of his shots to the square boundary on either side of the wicket, were breath-taking.
Glenn Maxwell played a chancy but important innings to string a big partnership with Marsh. Considering how weak their lower order batting is, Maxwell had to score those runs with Marsh; which he did. Maxwell was particularly severe on anything that was short from Kuldeep, depositing the deliveries to the short square boundary.
One felt that the Indian bowlers missed a trick by giving the Aussie batsmen plenty of deliveries to target those short square boundaries at Adelaide.
Khawaja and Stoinis played handy innings and looked good until they got out.
Adelaide pitch was flat and true. So, the Aussie bowlers, both spin and seam, did not get much purchase today. Except for Lyon, the bowling line up lacks experience to perform consistently against the vastly experienced batting order of India. The Indian batting duly dictated terms to them at Adelaide.
Even though, the match went till the 50th over, one never felt that the Aussie bowlers had the game under control. Every Indian batsman that walked in, stitched a partnership and pushed the chase forward. So, the lack of bite in the bowling must be a cause of concern for the Aussie Captain and selectors. Jhye Richardson was quite disappointing today. He hardly looked the bowler who took 4 wickets in the previous match.
Aussie selection committee will have their job cut out to pick their squad for the World Cup. They will reckon that their big gun bowlers, Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins will return after their break and none of these problems will appear. They would do well to remember that Starc was not in good form at all in the test series. So, the Aussies will be desperate to see some of the newcomers like Jhye or Jason or Stanlake stand up and provide them an alternative.
Virat will be very happy with this win. He will be pleased with Dhoni and Bhuvi coming good in this match. In the immediate context of this ongoing series, Virat would want the team to win in MCG and take home the ODI series trophy as well. I reckon that India will win at MCG and make it a unique double. It could have been a triple but for the rain in MCG during the T20I. Let us hope that we get a full match in Melbourne.