Dubai: India managed to thwart a whitewash as they stopped Australia by 13 runs in the last One-day International at Canberra - a win which will give them enough heart ahead of the T20 series which gets underway on Friday.
It was more a matter of individual brilliance, as is often the case with India, which paved the way for Virat Kohli & Co pulling off a thrilling win on Thursday. If Hardik Pandya (92 not out) and Ravindra Jadeja (66 n.o.) showed the virtues of innings building in a 50-over game to take India to a 300-plus total on a somewhat challenging wicket, it would also be a day to remember for the Indian captain who became the fastest to reach the 12000-run mark in ODIs.
Shardul Thakur, playing his first game on the tour, then turned out to be a thinking bowler to return with figures of 10-1-51-3. “See, the important part was to stick to our lengths in this match. If you see the series, Australian batsmen have played pull and cut shots quite a bit, I just tried to keep them off those shots and I was trying to make them play in the straighter lines. This plan worked for me,” said Thakur, who came in as the first-change bowler after Jasprit Bumrah and debutant T. Natarajan.
Asked about the wicket of Steve Smith, who fell for his first poor score of the series, Thakur said: “See, I feel sometimes that we get lucky. When we try to execute the plans, we wanted to keep them on the backfoot and win this game, we were planning to bowl at the stumps when Smith was batting, I got lucky that I strangled him down the legside, he is a top player, it was a huge wicket for us. Winning this game to carry the momentum in the T20I series was important.”
Despite the win, India are now placed at an embarrassing sixth position in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League with nine points, a points system devised as qualifiers of the ICC World Cup in 2023. While they would qualify for the 2023 marquee event automatically as hosts, their lack of planning showed up in this format - despite being such a formidable squad on paper in all departments of the game.
The Aaron Finch-led Australian side has now moved to the top of the points table following their 2-1 victory over India, followed by reigning World Cup champions England in second position with 30 points. Eoin Morgan’s men defeated Ireland 2-1 in the opening series of the championship before losing by the same margin to five-time world champions Australia.
Pakistan are also on 20 points after a 2-1 series win over Zimbabwe, who secured 10 points for their Super Over win in the final ODI played in Rawalpindi.
“See, definitely the grounds are big, the pitches have been good to bat on this series, as a bowler, you need to be smart in terms of your bowling plan and where you want the batsman to hit shots. The key is to execute the plans and it will definitely help in the end. Warner was not playing this game and it was an opportunity for our bowlers to put Australia on the backfoot. We were looking to win this game to carry forward the momentum in the T20I series,” he added.
Thakur is not a part of the T20I squad, but the pacer is just looking to make the most of all the opportunities that come his way. “I think the team was selected a while back, I am not part of the T20 squad so I never thought about it. We are looking at this as six-match series (three ODIs and three T20Is). From now on, we can exploit the situations very well, boys are getting used to the conditions,” he signed off.