The series so far has been a high-scoring affair but Australia captain George Bailey backed his bowlers to defend the 296-run target set by his batsmen for India in the fourth One-Day Internationals (ODI), which was washed out in Ranchi on Wednesday.
“We were confident but I’m sure India probably were as well given the way the series has gone so far. With a strong batting line-up, I’m sure they would’ve been. But we just felt there was enough movement in the wicket, particularly early on,” Bailey said at the post-match press conference after the fourth ODI was called due to rain at the JSCA Stadium.
“Looking at our scorecard it would suggest that new batters found it difficult at the wicket. It was hard to get started. We were hoping if we could get a couple of wickets we could make that quite challenging [for India]. And certainly the pace that Mitch [Mitchell Johnson] was getting early on, it looked like that was going to be quite difficult to play at different stages of the game,” he said.
The wash out might have dashed Australia’s hope of reclaiming the numero uno spot in ODI rankings, but Bailey said the visitors never thought about it going into the match.
“I don’t think anyone is thinking about the number one ranking. It’s been said all along – it’s an end product, an end result. It’s about each and every game,” he said.
“I think the way Duckworth/Lewis is set up, if it would have been reduced to a 20-over game, it probably would’ve suited India,” Bailey said.
On the weather he said: “It never really got that heavy, but it never really got away. I know there’s been rain forecast for a couple of days and it looks like it’s pretty wet in Cuttack there too. There’s a couple of pictures going around where the ground is half under water. Hopefully that can clear up in the next couple of days.”
Bailey scored his third half-century in the series as he shared a record 153-run fifth wicket stand with Maxwell, who according the Australian skipper took all the pressure off him.
“I thought Maxwell found it conducive for strokeplay. It was still a good batting wicket. The only difference between this wicket and other wickets we played so far is that it swung and seamed and spat a little bit, particularly at the start.
“I think Maxy’s [Maxwell] innings was absolutely superb. We’ve seen his hitting before and we’ve seen how he can take games away late in the innings. But to come in with the team under pressure, with the ball still doing a little bit he summed it up beautifully,” he said.
“He didn’t take any risks. They were smart shots. He took the pressure off me. I was finding it a little bit tough out there but when you’ve got someone scoring at the pace he was, it put the pressure right back on India. It was a great knock.”
Asked whether he tried to calm down Maxwell after his switch hits, he said: “No, absolutely not. He practices that as much as I’ve ever seen anyone practice it.”
“If that’s a shot that he’s put the time into, then he has every right to play it but as long as the circumstances are right. I think the field that he had and the plan that he had was spot on and he executed them very well,” he added.
Although he top-scored for Australia, Bailey said it was not his best knock of the series.
“Not really, I was dropped twice. I was a bit frustrated out there and found it quite difficult.”