India got their first bilateral series win in Australia by beating the host 2-1. Barring the first match in Sydney, Indian team looked mostly untroubled as Australian batsmen except for Shaun Marsh in 2nd ODI failed to make big scores after getting set.
Their bowling in last two matches also looked toothless. Whereas Indians kept their cool except some part of the first match and looked mostly set for the upcoming World Cup. Here are some of the key talking points from the series.
5. Re-emergence of MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni did not score a single ODI fifty in 2018. He scored just 275 runs with an average of 25 and a strike rate of 71.42. Many questions were raised, people felt the old Dhoni was gone and even a part of media and fans were not sure whether Dhoni deserved a place in 2019 World cup planning or not. But India’s senior statesman started 2019 with a bang. This is the first time when Dhoni started the year with three consecutive 50’s. Two of these 50’s are unbeaten and came in winning causes. Although in all the matches Dhoni started slowly but picked up the scoring rate at the last stage of the chase. It has to be mentioned that in both matches he got excellent support from Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav, however, Dhoni himself showed enough promise to prove everyone that the 37-year-old can still contribute to Indian cricket. At least till the mega event of World Cup in June-July.
Also Read: Dhoni is happy to bat at any position
4. India’s middle order conundrum
With ICC Cricket World Cup less than six months away, all these ODI matches are important to test various combinations to get a set team to take to the World cup. Despite a stable top, three India’s middle order is still not set and in this series also we saw them to try different combinations. In the last two years, India have given chance to players like Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Yuvraj Singh etc. All the above-mentioned names were not part of this tour as India trusted Ambati Rayudu for the number four spot based on his heroics in the 2018 IPL and also good showing in home ODIs against Windies. However, with two not so flattering performance, Rayudu was replaced by Kedar Jadhav who played a solid knock and looked solid to seal his spot for next few matches. Dinesh Karthik performed pretty well as a finisher in limited chances he got. He needs to produce some more decent performances in upcoming New Zealand tour then India’s 4-5-6 can be Dhoni-Kedar-DK with Rayudu as back up option. Interestingly the selectors have included the young talented Shubhman Gill in the Squad for the New Zealand tour and given a chance if he can display some part of his domestic/under-19 form, then that would give a happy headache to the selectors.
Also Read: Dhoni should bat at no. 4
3. India’s bowling reaches
In recent times, Indian bowlers are one of the best performers in world cricket. With around 10 world class bowlers with everyone offering something different, Indian bowling has great depth and gives various options to the captain. A big credit should goes to India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun, especially considering that bowling was India’s Achilles’ heel for the ages. In this series, India rested Jasprit Bumrah and with Hardik Pandya out due to unfortunate circumstances, India had to move away from the preferred combination of two wrist spinners to maintain balance. They played Ravindra Jadeja as an all-rounder and only one of Kuldeep or Chahal could play. Where Kuldeep Yadav was preferred for his recent performances and was steady in first two matches, Yuzvendra Chahal got a chance in the 3rd ODI and promptly delivered a man-of-the-match performance. His bowling analysis of 6-42 is the best bowling analysis for a spinner ever in ODI’s on Australian soil.
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, who could not break into the eleven during the test series, was the leading wicket-taker in the ODI’s from both team and kept giving good starts to India. He got Australian captain Aaron Finch during his first spell in all three matches and ensured that Australia could not take the game ways from the beginning. Mohammed Shami provided much-needed stability during the middle and end overs with his control and a hint of reverse swing. Although both Khaleel and Siraj were not great they would get more chances and mostly be the backup options once Bumrah is back. India also has bowlers like Umesh Yadav, Deepak Chahar, and Siddarth Kaul to fall back on in case they need more bowling options.
2. Australia far from settled
In the World Cup, Australia will go as defending champion, but in one of the rare occasions not as favorites. The absence of Steve Smith and David Warner has impacted their batting. Although their bans will be lifted before the World Cup, both have complained about injuries and their participation is not guaranteed. Without them, Australian batting looked weak and unsettled. Finch is out of form since the test series. Their experiment of opening with Alex Carey was not successful, Usman Khawaja kept getting starts but could not push towards big scores and Glenn Maxwell’s batting position looks one spot too low. Shaun Marsh is their best batsman currently and needs to lead the batting pack and control the innings especially towards the end.
In the bowling department, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were rested and with another back injury for Hazlewood, his chance of participating in World Cup looks bleak. Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff looked promising but have combined experience of 9 ODI’s among them and Australia will look to test various other options in their road to World Cup. They recalled Peter Siddle which looked like a failed move as Siddle ended with just 2 wickets with a bowling average of 81. Australia won just 4 of their last 26 ODI’s with this scenario even a semi-final spot looks unlikely for them
1. Kohli showing class
If we go by the recent social media trend of #10yearchallenge, for Indian cricket it is how the mantle has passed from one Sachin Tendulkar to Virat Kohli in the last ten years. Virat Kohli is arguably the best batsman in the world in all formats currently and he showed enough class to score another hundred in his favorite Adelaide cricket ground. This was ODI century number 39 and with 10 more ODI’s leading to World Cup and at least 9 matches during the World cup, Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries is looking ever so close. His captaincy was solid and mostly without any blemish. But we can say that he was not challenged much by Australia and mostly played the ODI series in a calm, relaxed manner unlike his passionate self displayed during the test series.