By Shrikant Shankar
Australia beat England in the third One-Day International (ODI) to clinch the series 3-0 with two matches to spare. They cruised to a seven-wicket victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on January 19, 2014 to keep England winless in their current tour Down Under. A glance at the scorecard would suggest that it was a complete team performance that won them the game. Obviously there would be a few who always performed better than the others, but at the end of the day, it is the consolidated effort by all that eventually leads to the victory.
James Faulkner starred in the second ODI win in Brisbane the other day, but Australia are getting everyone to contribute to their victories. In the first ODI in Melbourne, Clint McKay took three wickets while Aaron Finch scored 121. David Warner scored 65 and Michael Clarke scored 43. In the second ODI, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Faulkner and Glenn Maxwell took a couple of wickets each. While Faulkner stole the show with an unbeaten 47-ball 65, there were important contributions from the others as well. Shaun Marsh scored 55 and Maxwell scored 54 to help Australia chase down a 301-run target.
In the third ODI, Coulter-Nile was again amongst the wickets with three to his name. Faulkner and Dan Christian took two wickets each. Xavier Doherty helped by dismissing Ben Stokes. While chasing 244 for a win, Warner struck a blazing 71 off 70 deliveries with seven fours and two sixes. Marsh remained till the end by scoring 71 off 89 deliveries. He too hit seven fours. Clarke scored 34 at a brisk strike-rate of 121.42. Brad Haddin pitched in with an unbeaten 35 off 33 deliveries to seal the series for Australia. All this highlights the fact that Australia have got many of their players to contribute in some way.
Finch’s century and Faulkner’s heroics may be the outstanding contributions so far. There will always be such individual performances in every other match. But as a team they are gunning for victory and are achieving their goals. One might say that all this is in their home comforts and one is always expected to win at home. But in early 2015, the ICC World Cup will be held in Australia and New Zealand. For a team that has won four World Cups, Australia have not won one at home. They will be desperate to win the most prized 50-over tournament in world cricket in their own backyard.
Clarke and coach Darren Lehmann must be given a lot of praise and they have achieved their first goal, which was to win the 2013-14 Ashes. After the 5-0 triumph, Australia have now won the ODI series. England maybe at an all-time low in terms of morale and form, but one can only beat what is in front of them and Australia are doing just that. When the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 concluded, India became the favourites to win the ICC World Cup 2015. England were probably considered amongst one of the main contenders.
Now after half a year, Australia are seeming like a genuine contender and England as underdogs at best. The entire Australian team is performing and that is a good sign. They have a few brilliant players and many good players. When they strive for one goal together, they achieve it more often than not. All these are good signs for Australia and the rest have to improve their games to beat them in their own den.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
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