Dubai: If the Australian team had a more settled look about themselves as they posted an emphatic 66-run win over India on Friday, a key factor behind it was that they had the benefit of getting some 50-overs match practice against England just on the eve of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Virat Kohli’s men, on the other hand, were coming out of their T20 extravaganza in the UAE and were found wanting in quite a few key areas in their first international fixture in eight months.
There is virtually no time to regroup for them as they take on the hosts, in the second ODI at the same venue on Sunday - where the batting conditions looked perfect in both sessions of the game. Down 1-0 in a three-game series, the team management will be looking for a well-rounded approach to keep the series alive.
The lack of balance in the Indian side, which only has one allrounder in the 50-overs side in Ravindra Jadeja, came back to haunt them as they had no sixth bowling option when Aaron Finch and Steve Smith were going great guns. Kohli was honest enough to admit that the team lacked a genuine allrounder unlike the Australians as Hardik Pandya is still not fit enough to bowl in match situations. “Unfortunately, Hardik is not fit enough to bowl and we don’t have other allround options to pick from either, someone like Stoinis or Maxwell,” Kohli said later.
The bowling department needs a rethink on two counts - while the sixth option has been much talked about, India have been fined 20% of their match fee for their slow over-rate. The match ran an hour beyond the scheduled finish and techically went past the SCG’s curfew limit for lights.
The fielding too left a lot to be desired as the Indians looked rusty on the field and Kohli made no bones about the fact that the body language of the boys wasn’t on expected levels after the 25-over mark. “Body language wasn’t great after around 25 overs. If you don’t take your chances against a top-quality opposition, they’ll make you pay,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pandya - who was one of the few silver linings in the first game with a counter-attacking 90 - said he had started bowling at the nets but wants to do so only in importnant games and the upcoming World Cups.
“It is a process. I am looking at a long-term goal where I want to be 100 per cent of my bowling capacity for the most important games. The World Cups are coming. More crucial series are coming. Whenever it is required,” Pandya said in a virtual press-conference.
“I am thinking as a long-term plan, not short term where I exhaust myself and maybe have something else [injury] which is not there. So it is going to be a process, which I am following. I can’t tell you exactly when I am going to bowl but the process is on. In the nets, I am bowling. It is just that I am not game-ready but I am bowling. It is all about confidence and the skill has to be at an international level,” he added.
CATCH THE MATCH
India vs Australia
Second One-day International
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground
Start: 7.40 am (UAE) Day-Night