By: Shubham Kulkarni
India has started its final stages of the preparation for the World Cup on the right note as it won its first ever bilateral ODI series in Australia. Even though India didn’t start the right way in the first ODI, the team made a good comeback to win the next two matches to take the series.
India ticked some really important boxes going into the next series and the World Cup. We saw some good old ODI cricket where the contest was between bat and ball and not just "my bat vs your bat". As Virat Kohli mentioned in the post-match presentation after the series win, it was a collective team effort that helped India take the series 2-1. In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar stepped to the fore and performed really well. It was important for Kumar to get some confidence as he hadn’t played competitive cricket for a while. Mohammed Shami too wasn’t far behind as he picked up 5 wickets in the three games with some tight bowling. He might have just gone ahead of Khaleel Ahmed and Mohammed Siraj in the race of the third seamer for the World Cup.
Talking about the spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal’s Man of the Match performance in the last game will make it hard to keep him out of the side for at least the next few games. Kuldeep Yadva had a disappointing outing in the second game and would look to perform better against New Zealand. Ravindra Jadeja might have to up his game to keep his place in the side. For a change, even after scoring hundreds the top order weren’t making the headlines but the middle-order was.
MS Dhoni who was most likely on his last tour to Australia had a great start to the year as he hit three consecutive half-centuries. Two of his three 50s came in a winning cause and most importantly he finished those games. Even if he can’t be the old Dhoni, he has some gas left in him till the World Cup. He can play that anchor role in the middle of the innings. Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav made some significant contributions in the second and third matches, respectively. Jadhav, with his all-round abilities, will make it hard for others to get in the team.
Kohli and Rohit Sharma did what they do best. Both of them had a hundred in the series but the fact that Shikhar Dhawan isn’t capitalizing on the starts is a concern. On the other hand, Australia has some problems with its batting.
The Australian skipper Aaron Finch's bad patch with the bat definitely didn’t help the team. Usman Khawaja didn’t do anything special and so he might make way for somebody else in the next series. Alex Carey doesn’t seem to be the right choice for opening the batting.
Australia bowled well without its premier pacers. Jason Behrendoff and Jhye Richardson are good young talents for the future. If Australia can sort out its batting, the team could perform well at the World Cup.
As mentioned earlier, India has ticked quite a few boxes for the World Cup. Even though the team's middle-order is far from being settled, it is good that they have contributed heavily in wins. India has a huge challenge ahead of itself in New Zealand, a strong outfit in limited overs formats. The Australian series might just be the starter as Indian fans wait for the main course to start.