Australia’s tour of India has started off with a loss in the one-off T20 despite posting a score in excess 200. While many would say they were unlucky to be up against a strong Indian batting line-up on what is referred to as a ‘patta wicket’ Australia clearly have a lot to learn from their performance. George Bailey would want to take away the positives, but Prakash Govindasreenivasan lists down what Australia really should take home from their six-wicket loss.
To be fair to the visitors, there was very little wrong they did with the bat in the early stage of their innings. Mahendra Singh Dhoni opted to field on a flat deck, thanks to the growing number of ‘finishers’ in his line-up and the Australian came out with Virender Sehwag-like ‘see ball, hit ball’ intentions. Yet, as the game progressed the initial fizz faded and the Indian side slowly began to get a grip on the game. Once that happened, Australia were left clueless. Here are a few things the visitors need to note down and work on ahead of the seven-match ODI series.
The way Nic Maddinson and Aaron Finch began; one thought there will be a mammoth score on the cards at the end of their innings. The visitors finished with 202 and yet it seemed like they were 25-30 runs short. That sounds a lot like a harsh assessment for a side that finished with a run-rate of just over 10, but the wicket was meant to produce a high-scoring encounter. All along the innings, there were junctures where India kept deflating the Australian momentum. There were patches of overs where the run flow was curbed, thus, adding to the pressure. Finch, came out on top with a sensational 52-ball knock of 89 propelling the Australians to a high total. Even as Glenn Maxwell joined Finch and began to dig out sixes off almost every delivery he faced, Ravindra Jadeja finished his spell with a wicket and just 23 runs.
Lesson to learn: While batting first against India on a flat deck, never take your foot off the pedal. Most often than not, you will end up 15-20 runs short.
The Kumars and the art of slower one
The rollicking start that Australia got meant the Indian bowlers had to brace themselves for a tough day in the office. Yet, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Vinay Kumar unleashed a few slower ones along the way to take the pace off the ball and put a break on the onslaught. Vinay Kumar gave away 10 runs in his first over and still finished with three for 35 in his four overs on a day when the scoring rate was going consistently at more than 10 runs an over. Again, in crucial times, both these bowlers took the pace off the ball and made life difficult for the Australian batsmen who clearly found it difficult to impose themselves on the home team.
Lesson to learn: Variation is the key on such batting paradises in India. Australian bowlers cannot expect to dazzle the hosts with their pace and bounce on wickets that have almost nothing in it for them. Their ability to vary line, length and most importantly pace will determine the level of success.
Yuvraj Singh is far from done
This probably comes as news to the Indian contingent too. Yuvraj, the comeback man, walked out when 122 runs were required from 69 balls. He had done well against the West Indies A recently and yet not many would have expected him to stay on till the end, let alone looking forward to a match-winning knock. But, Yuvraj, his trademark flambuoyant style went after the bowling to lead India to a six-wicket win. Along the way there were a barrage of cleanly-hit sixes and crisply timed fours, reminding us of the man who anchored his team to two World Cup victories.
Lesson to learn: Yuvraj’s return is far from just an emotional move for India and he has showcased that in the T20. While making plans against the Indian batsmen, Australia need to invest a few extra hours on the southpaw.
No total is big enough for this Indian line-up
Especially on a wicket that is akin to the national highway with almost no inundations. Over the last couple of years, the Indian top-order has mastered the art of chasing. India have come a long way from being poor at chasing daunting totals to scaling unfathomable mountains in the recent past. There is no room for complacency even if the opposition manages to pick up a couple of wickets early on. If you get the openers, the likes of Virat Kohli and Yuvraj will walk out to consolidate. If you get them, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni will walk in to blast away. Against this line-up, you need wickets and you need them quick.
Lesson: Again, no place for complacency. There will be lesser madness and more method in the ODIs but Australia need to expect a similar approach from the hosts. Bailey needs to tighten the last few screws in his side to be able to give India a tough fight.