Australia vs. India, ODI series: A review
Australia completed a 2-1 series win over India in the 50-over leg of India’s first tour in the post-COVID world. Australian batsmen were in supreme form and delivered two superlative batting performances in the first two matches to score massive totals, 374/6 and 389/4 in the first two ODIs, and won handsomely.
Again, Steve Smith proved his greatness and continued his love story against India with two hundred with support from other Aussie top order batsmen, especially Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch.
The Indians who toured directly from Dubai to Australia after the conclusion of IPL looked flat in the first two ODIs. Their bowlers leaked runs. Although there were few special performances with the bat, most notably in a couple of instances by Hardik Pandya, overall, the batting did not look as dominating as the Australians.
The Australian batsmen scored 7 half-centuries and 3 centuries in the series, with the captain Finch leading the run tally with 249 runs. Finch passed fifty in all three matches and ensured a great opening partnership in the first two matches. With his partner David Warner, who himself scored two fifties in the series, Finch added 156 and 142 for the first wicket in the first two ODIs. Warner missed the third ODI due to a groin strain and will miss the T20 series.
Then there were Smith and Maxwell, who had the most telling effect in the series. Like Finch, the duo also had mediocre returns from IPL 2020 but looked in great shape during this series. Smith now has 1143 runs against India, more than a quarter of his total ODI runs. He also has 5 hundred and 5 fifties and maintains an average above 62. In both the first two matches, he came to bat after the 20th and reached his hundred with a strike rate around 162. None of the Indian bowlers could contain his brilliant stroke play, and deservingly he was awarded the man-of-the-series award.
Glenn Maxwell also was in a devastating mood as his returns 45 off 19, 63 off 29, and 59 of 38 show. He played supporting act in the first two matches, whereas he almost took Australia to victory in the third ODI single-handedly. Maxwell finished the series with the highest average for the Aussies (83.5) and a record strike rate of 194.
Adam Zampa and Josh Hazlewood were the two most impressive Australian bowlers in the series. Zampa is slowly becoming one of Australia’s must-picks limited-over squads and proved his wicket-taking skills with 7 wickets in the series. Josh Hazlewood ensured a steady start for Australia in all the matches and provided 6 key wickets at the right time. He clearly won his battle against Virat Kohli as the fast bowler dismissed the Indian captain three times. Zampa and Hazlewood were also the two highest wicket-takers in the series.
Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc played only the first two matches and while Cummins looked in good touch after a poor IPL, the form of Starc will create uneasiness for Australian selectors. The left-arm pacer did not play in IPL and, despite a good rest, did not look to be his frightening best. He could pick up only 1 wicket for 147 runs and leaked runs at an economy rate above 8. Aston Agar played just one match and got two wickets.
For Indians, two of their key all-rounder were most impressive during the series. Hardik Pandya was making a comeback to the Indian team after a long injury break and could bowl only once in the three matches.
However, with the bat in hand, he proved decisive and hinted to be the world-class finisher India is looking for post the retirement of MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina. He improved his highest ODI score twice during the series as he scored 90 in the first ODI and an unbeaten 92 in the third ODI. His 210 runs in the series came at an average of 105 and strike rate of 114.75. He hit 15 fours and 6 sixes and showed much better maturity and willingness to play long innings despite coming at number six.
India’s number seven Ravindra Jadeja also played two cameos in the first two ODIs before scoring a 50-ball 66 in the third ODI. He and Pandya added record unbeaten 150 runs for the sixth wicket in the final ODI to take India to a winning total.
Virat Kohli scored a couple of good half-centuries and also passed Sachin Tendulkar to become the fastest player to score 12,000 runs in the ODIs in his 242nd ODI. However, he still missed the elusive hundred and failed to score an ODI hundred in this calendar year after a long gap. KL Rahul managed the dual role of batsman and wicket-keeper but failed with the bat twice except the second ODI. Shubman Gill played only the third ODI and scored promising 33 runs.
Among Indian bowlers, Mohammed Shami looked most impactful during the first two ODIs. He and Jasprit Bumrah finished with 4 wickets each in the series. Shardul Thakur only played the third ODI, and his 3 for 51 is the best Indian bowling analysis in the series. If fit, he should be the third Indian pacer supporting Shami and Bumrah in the long run.
The left armer, Thangarasu Natarajan, was a late inclusion in the ODI team and made his debut in the third ODI at the Manuka Oval and finished with 2 for 70. Navdeep Saini and Yuzvendra Chahal were the two biggest disappointments for India in the series.
The RCB duo had terrible outings in the first two matches and could pick up only one wicket each, with Chahal maintaining an economy rate of 8.42 and Saini 9. Bumrah was also not in great touch in the first two matches but was looked at his best in the third ODI. His crashing yorker to dismiss Maxwell literally ensured the only win in the series for India.
The Indians continued to struggle to find their sixth bowling option, and hence the four overs bowled by Pandya during the second ODI would give lots of comfort to captain Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri.
However, since Pandya is returning from back surgery, the team management needs to manage his workload well and should not hurry him back to bowling full quota. The T20 series will give them a good opportunity to get one-two overs from Pandya during the crucial middle overs.
Although the ODI series was not as hard-fought as Kohli would like to have but the win in the third ODI will give the Indian team lots of confidence before the first T20 international on the same venue in 2-days’ time. Kohli would love to win at least one series in the tour before going back for his upcoming paternity leave.