India, who performed well in the first two ODIs, suffered a clean sweep when they lost half of the board’s 152 and 32 overs before being bowled out for an unbeaten 152 in the final ODI in Canberra on Wednesday. The sixth wicket between Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja turned into a tide. India won by 30 runs and scored 13 runs. What helps the visitor mentally is that their place of fight is the same as it was just 48 hours ago.
From a group that seems to be suffering from problems – lack of a sixth bowling option, bowlers who can’t bat, bad bowlers – tourists have to start the tour with a form that has followed the IPL, suddenly looking like a high-risk group.
India have lost the Pandya bowler and found the No. 6 leading batsman Pandya who can lead the team in big or chase the team. During the match-winning 92-ball 92, the 25-year-old showed immense maturity, taking the time to dig his heels when it was tough, before unleashing his trademark big hits at death.
In T20 matches, India will be delighted to see what Pandya is doing for the Mumbai Indians – blast from ball one to maximize the final five overs. Pandya’s improvement as a batsman is the biggest benefit of the tour so far.
Jadeja is now contesting Pandya for Team India’s ‘MVP’. His unbeaten 66 off 50 balls in that win, Jadeja has improved a lot as a batsman in the last few years, though he may be a bit slower as a bowler. His electric fielding became clear once again when he took a diving catch at the square leg boundary to get rid of Cameron Green, meaning India have an extra man on the field.
Captain Virat Kohli’s biggest bowling weapon, Jasprit Bumrah, is delighted to finally hit the international stage. Yorker is ahead of the tour with the Avengers in the third one-day match, when ace paceman Glenn Maxwell is cast in danger. In the T20s, he becomes even more lethal, perhaps the best bowler in the world by a fair margin.
Though he went for 70 in his 10 overs, T Natarajan was easily adaptable to international cricket, taking two wickets in his debut. Based on a solid performance in the IPL, the left-arm paceman from Tamil Nadu, known as the ‘Yorker specialist’, could prove more dangerous in the T20I series.
In a blunder of choice, India seem to have missed three wickets for 51 in 10 overs, including Mumbai paceman Shardul Thakur, who was instrumental in Wednesday’s win. Thakur, who played the first match of the ODI series, brought much-needed aggression and turned to bowling. The addition of Washington Sunder, usually with his off-spin, gives the team more all-round depth.
Australia badly missed David Warner and Pat Cummins in the final ODI, and so does the series. With Warner absent, they again bank on leader Finch, Smith, Labuschagne and Dynamic Maxwell. Stark and Henriques are also nursing niggers.