MOHALI: Was there any element of surprise in India’s mauling of Australia in the second ODI at Jaipur? Do India’s new breed of batsmen approach any and every target with the firm conviction of overhauling it? Are the Indians masters of shorter formats, especially on home turf? The common answer to all the above is an unequivocal ‘yes’. But as much as the second-highest ODI chase ever accentuated the hosts' batting power, it equally drove home the frailty of their bowling.
For the second time in succession, India conceded over 300 runs to Australia. In the lone Twenty20 that preceded the ODIs, they had leaked over 200 (once again it were the batters who came to the rescue!) at Pune. The Indians have gifted 864 runs in 120 overs across three games, at an economy rate of 7.20. All this begs one to reconsider the No. ODI team’s all-round strength: can an outfit leak runs like faulty cistern and depend on their batting to get them out of trouble each time?
At the PCA Stadium on Saturday, one team will, in all likelihood, surge into the series lead, and for once that team might be the one that performs better with the ball. The pitch at Mohali has traditionally assisted fast bowlers – a category of sportsmen that abound in Australia’s line-up, but who were smarted to the tune of 362 inside of 44 overs in the dispiriting (for cherry hurlers) Jaipur clash.
But if Jaipur had the capacity to dissuade an entire TV generation from taking up bowling, it would have also, in all likelihood, inspired a million young boys to emulate the Kohlis, the Dhawans and the Rohits, to say nothing of the Yuvrajs and the Dhonis who were not even required to bat chasing a monster score.
The immediate aftermath of the stupendous show was George Bailey’s frank disbelief. The Aussie captain, in the absence of Michael Clarke and in the face of some rank poor bowling by Ishant Sharma, R Vinay Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja, has weighed in with two brilliant knocks in the last two games.
But even Bailey admitted that his team had been witness to something special at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
“Am I surprised that they got 362 in 43 overs… yeah, absolutely mate, that was phenomenal. I am still surprised about that a couple of days later, that was a phenomenal batting performance. But personally, I’d like to back the group we have. I want to give them chance that they can get on top of that Indian batting line-up.”
That’s easier said than done. The current Indian set-up boasts five, conservatively estimated, outright limited-overs match-winners. And although Mohali is supposedly ever-conducive to pacemen, it remains to be seen how the track will actually behave on match day.
"It looks like it's got a little bit of more grass on it, whether that comes off in the next 24 hours, I am not sure about that...there is little bit of more life than the Jaipur wicket. The ground looks like a bit bigger, but I haven't had a look at any of the past scores or anything like that, so I don't know what to expect," Bailey added.
India (from): M S Dhoni (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Amit Mishra, Jaydev Unadkat and Mohd Shami; Australia (from): George Bailey (c), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Callum Ferguson, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Moises Henriques, Phil Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Adam Voges, Shane Watson.
Match starts at 1.30 pm (IST).