Sunday’s second One-Day International was an action replay of the first game on Friday, Aaron Finch winning the toss and Australia’s top-order piling up a mountain of runs to bat India out of the game.
Once again, Steve Smith played a breathtaking innings, but without taking anything away from Australia, it must be said that India didn’t do themselves any favours.
On a flat deck, the best chance of keeping the opposition down to a manageable total lies in striking with the new ball. That’s where Virat Kohli missed a trick. He took pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah off after two excellent overs. It’s okay to use the lynchpin in short bursts in T20 cricket but in the longer format, you must give him at least four overs, if not more, especially when he is in a good rhythm.
Australia breathed easy once Bumrah went out of the attack. David Warner and Finch laid another great platform, from which point India was playing catch-up.
Because India were unable to get wickets in a clutch, Australia knew they could turn it on whenever they pleased. For the second time in three nights, they scored more than 100 runs in the last 10 overs and close to 200 in the last 20. These are worrying signs for an Indian attack that was at full strength, possibly with the exception of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar.
India’s one-day successes have been fashioned by Bumrah and Bhuvi striking with the new ball, the wrist spinners doing damage in the middle overs, and Bumrah nailing his yorkers and slower balls at the death. In this series, like in New Zealand earlier in the year, Bumrah hasn’t been spot-on with his execution, while Yuzvendra Chahal has been both expensive and bereft of wickets. The result has been predictable.
It was heartening to see Hardik Pandya slip in a few overs with little obvious discomfort. His cutters gave Australia’s bowlers the blueprint to operate on the pitch, but it stands to reason that the hosts would have figured that out at some stage.
I was impressed with India’s approach during their almost-impossible chase. The strokeplay was of the highest order; particularly pleasing was how Virat and KL Rahul batted. Mayank Agarwal unleashed a few exquisite drives and Shikhar Dhawan was on song, though neither batted long enough to seriously threaten Australia. That’s what scoreboard pressure can do.
The series might have been won and lost, but there is pride at stake going into Canberra on Wednesday. The sooner India can get off the mark, the better for their confidence. If Virat’s luck with the coin changes, so could the script.