Team India were touted as the favourites to win the One Day International series against Australia Down Under, but two dismal showings thus far at the Sydney Cricket Ground has meant that the Men in Blue have conceded the three-match series. The Aussies were at their dominating best in the first two games, as they managed to score 340+ in both matches, while the Indians lagged way behind as far as their batting and bowling were concerned.
Skipper Aaron Finch, David Warner, Steven Smith and Glenn Maxwell have all made hay in the first two games, with Smith leading the way. One of the best batters of the generation, Smith has continued his excellent run against the Indians, with two quick centuries in the first two games. He smashed both his hundreds in 62 balls, which not only pegged the visitors back but also sent them back to the drawing board ahead of the T20I and the Test series.
The third and final ODI will be played at Canberra on December 2. We look at the reasons why the Men in Blue have lost the ODI series against Australia.
The inability of Bumrah and Shami to pick up wickets with the new ball
Both Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami were in excellent form in the recently concluded Indian Premier League, and were expected to lead the bowling attack against the mighty Australians in the tough conditions Down Under. However, they have been brutally exposed in the two games as they have picked up just six wickets between them thus far. The fast bowlers have also not picked up a single wicket in the powerplay overs this series, which now means that Team India have not been able to pick up a wicket in the first ten overs of an ODI game in the last five instances. The third seamer Navdeep Saini has leaked runs and has just picked up one wicket, which has further increased the pressure on Bumrah and Shami.
While Shami has been impressive in patches, Bumrah has looked under par, and has conceded a number of loose deliveries upfront. It has allowed the dreaded Aussie opening pair of Aaron Finch and David Warner to score two hundred-plus stands, which has given the rest of the players a foundation and has allowed them to play their natural game. With Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravindra Jadeja combining to pick up just one wicket, the bowling has been sub-standard, which has made life miserable for the Indian cricket team.
Could Team India have made a few changes to their XI for the second ODI?
The Indian team, despite a heavy loss in the first One Day International by 66 runs, went into the second game without making any changes, despite the toothless and ineffective showing of Navdeep Saini and Yuzvendra Chahal in the series opener. The Royal Challengers Bangalore bowlers were well below thee mark, and ended with figures of 1 for 83 and 1 for 89 respectively, and had a huge role to play in the Aussie team scoring 374 in the first innings.
Ahead of the second game, it was expected that skipper Virat Kohli would make a few changes to the XI, considering the players available on the bench. Though chinaman spinner Kuldeep Yadav has not been in the greatest form of late and lacks confidence after a poor IPL season, where he was dropped midway by Kolkata Knight Riders, he could have gotten a chance in place of an ineffective Chahal, while T Natarajan could have been the X-factor. The latter bowled the highest number of yorkers in the IPL, and consistently troubled the rivals with his pin-point deliveries in the death overs. He could have been the unknown prospect in the lineup and could have had a huge impact in the match.
Interestingly, Saini was facing back spasms before the second One Day game, after which Natarajan, who is already in Australia with the T20 International team, was added to the ODI line-up.
The absence of Rohit Sharma is hitting the team hard
Though it has been Team India’s batting and poor fielding that is to blame for the series loss, there is no doubt that the side is also missing the services of opening batsman Rohit Sharma, who has been ruled out of the ODI, T20I and the first two Tests of the four-match series due to a hamstring injury that he suffered during the IPL. Though team India has managed to get close with the bat while chasing 375 and 390 in the two games respectively, the absence of Rohit has left a huge void in the side.
Though Shikhar Dhawan and Mayank Agarwal have given the team brisk starts in the first two matches, they have not been able to capitalize and have lost their qwickets in quick succession, which has only increased the pressure on the Indian middle order. Mayank, who has been pushed to open in the absence of Rohit, has played a few aesthetic hits, but has not been able to grasp onto his chances. Rohit, who has three double tons in the format, has the ability to get a big hundred if he gets going, which relieves the other batters of the pressure and allows them to play their natural game.
The 33-year old has been the most successful batters for Team India in the last two years, scoring 1661 runs in 30 innings at a strike rate of over 90 with eight tons (the highest for Team India in the duration) and six fifties. He is the fourth highest run-scorer in this interim in the world in the format, which is evidence of how crucial he has been.