Just a few weeks ago, when the Australian team arrived in India, they looked unsettled, unsure and low on confidence. And the worst part was the fact that they were playing the very same opponent that had thrashed them 2-1 in their own backyard just months ago.
They were still without their batting mainstays – David Warner and Steve Smith – and that along with skipper Aaron Finch’s poor form made the batting looked quite wobbly. To top it all, they had no recognized spinner to turn things around on Indian tracks.
The Australian coach Justin Langer must have only prayed that his team escaped a whitewash prior to boarding the long flight to India.
At the other end were the Men in Blue who looked absolutely geared up and immensely confident. Aside from their usual No. 4 conundrum, Team India appeared well-settled and the team management was only supposed to experiment with a few players to decide upon their 15 member squad for the ICC World Cup 2019.
Considering India’s recent ODI form everyone must have believed it would be a walkover against a weak Australian side on home soil. However, in just a short span of 15 days, the tables have completely turned around.
Very quietly, the tourists won the T20I series and now, with just one more game to play, the ODI series look well poised at 2-2. The way the Australians appear to be playing, they could well end up surprising the cricketing world by returning the favor.
Here are the 4 reasons why the supposedly weak Australians may end up winning the series against the extremely strong Indian at their own turf:
#1 India’s poor batting form
Apart from the Indian captain Virat Kohli (290 runs), no single batsman in the batting line up has displayed any consistency – not even the renowned Indian opening pair – Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
Once again the Indian middle order has failed to make any significant impact, with Ambati Rayudu failing miserably and Kedar Jadhav along with Vijay Shankar playing one-off cameos. Also, playing Ravindra Jadeja to strengthen the lower batting order has not really shown any positives.
Unfortunately, India’s batting, for now, looks heavily reliant on the batting maestro Kohli, and one poor shot or excellent delivery could cost India the series.
#2 India’s poor bowling performance
India’s much talked about bowling unit hasn’t really delivered with the exception of Kuldeep Yadav (9 wickets) and Jasprit Bumrah (7 wickets). Apart from the 2nd ODI, the bowlers have not managed to bowl the visitors out and on two occasions (3rd and 4th ODI) they have not been successful in restricting them to a total less than 300 runs.
It’s high time they worked out a plan to bowl to the Australian batsmen, and execute their boardroom strategies effectively on the field. If they fail to do that, the inspired Australian batting line up will certainly make India pay.
#3 The MSD factor
With MS Dhoni rested for the remainder of the series for the sole purpose of giving an opportunity to young wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant, there is a massive vacuum within the Indian team. Not only did Dhoni’s batting provide the much-needed stability and guidance to the unsettled and young middle-order, but he also ensured a pair of safe hands behind the stumps.
Dhoni’s presence on the field also makes the life of the spinners a lot easier – they just have to listen to the wise man, and the results follow on most occasions. And most importantly, his on-field availability provides massive support to Indian captain Virat Kohli with his game awareness and strategising, especially at the crucial intense stages of the game.
Dhoni was badly missed in the 4th ODI and beyond any doubt, Team India will miss him in the 5th ODI too. The MSD factor could very well be the difference between the two sides.
#4 An all-around Australian performance
A key reason for Australia’s success has been the consistent batting performances by their Test specialists like Usman Khawaja (283 runs) and Peter Handscomb (184 runs) fused with explosive performances by the key ODI players – Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner – at vital stages of the game.
On the bowling front, Pat Cummins (12) and Adam Zampa (8) have been leading the way and have been exceptionally supported by Glenn Maxwell, Jason Behrendorff and Jhye Richardson. As usual, the fielding has been top notch. Should they continue the same way, they have a very good opportunity to win the series.
The Australian team has surpassed everyone’s expectations and now, they are just one good day away from ending the Indian tour with flying colors. With momentum going their way, a win looks a very realistic possibility.
On the other hand, Kohli and Co. need to really up their game and bring their best on the ground to stop the juggernaut. Whatever the result may be, it certainly promises to an exciting game of cricket!