Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli Image Credit: AFP

Contrary to expectations, the first clash of the titans unspooled into a no-contest as Australia lorded over India in Mumbai.

Given their pedigree and recent form, a tense battle seemed imminent but Australia proved far superior, clattering home untroubled.

India missed a trick by dropping Virat Kohli down to No. 4.

The best batsman in the world, Virat can set up an innings, be it batting first or second, from No. 3.

He is a master at assessing conditions and situations, is full of intent and energy, and therefore creates uncertainty if not panic in the opposition ranks with every minute spent at the crease.

At No. 4, the innings is already set up for him — whether he walks in at 160 or at 18. India will be better served by the captain moving back to the spot best for him and the team.

The other area where India suffered was the inability of a set batsman to bat deep into the innings.

Both Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul got their eye in but fell within a few deliveries of each other.

When Virat and Shreyas Iyer also were dismissed cheaply, India had lost four wickets in six overs and was always playing catch-up.

Now that Rahul got an opportunity and extended his good form, it will be unfair to drop him. I’d like to see him bat at No. 4, a position from where he has made centuries even in T20 internationals.

India also didn’t do enough against Australia’s fourth and fifth bowlers, spinners Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa. Like in 2019 when they allowed Glenn Maxwell to go at less than five an over, they didn’t show enough intent against the spinners, which meant the fast bowlers could exert that much more pressure. These are lessons India will have taken on board, and I expect them to bounce back strongly like they did against West Indies after losing the first ODI in Chennai.

When you are playing only five bowlers, they must be the five most likely to take wickets. I’d like to see Yuzvendra Chahal back in the mix alongside Kuldeep Yadav. Jasprit Bumrah was a little off colour, maybe because he was little rusty playing his first ODI in a long time and also because he felt India were several runs light, he had to perforce deliver early breakthroughs.

He will be better for this outing; like India, he will be an improved version in Rajkot.