India vs Australia 2017: Virat Kohli's words are inspiring Steven Smith's team to make a comeback
What's the story?
Indian captain Virat Kohli might have inadvertently triggered Australia's comeback in the ongoing ODI series between the two fierce outfits. Shedding some light into the manner in which the Australian camp is utilising Kohli's bold declaration from the previous bilateral limited-overs affair between the two teams, fast bowler Kane Richardson has revealed how the star batsman's words are acting as a source of motivation for the visitors to set their sights on sparking a resurgence midway through the current tour.
Ahead of the fifth and final ODI at Nagpur, Richardson revealed, "I think they (India) lost the first four one-dayers (in the 2016 series) and Virat spoke about winning the last one-dayer and then the three T20s to make it four-all (for the tour). (Similarly) If we can keep winning and get ahead of them in terms of win/loss for the tour, that would be the goal. It's all about momentum now heading into the T20s. But as we know it's quite tough over here. Unless you play the perfect game it's tough to win."
With Australia ending their ignominious away drought in ODIs, a visibly relieved Richardson quipped, "It's definitely nice to win (a game) (for) the boys who have experienced those last couple of tours. The 5-0 in South Africa (last year), hearing from the boys that was quite tough. Now heading to Nagpur, the goal is to keep winning."
During their 2016 tour of Australia, India suffered four consecutive ODI losses despite facing a weakened opposition attack. At a time when the morale within the Indian camp was quite low, vice-captain Kohli publicly announced that the 'Men in Blue' were aiming to win the last ODI as well as the three remaining T20Is in order to stage a spirited comeback in the tour.
The heart of the matter
When they arrived at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru for the fourth game, Australia were on an 11-match losing streak in completed away ODIs. Even though the odds were firmly stacked against them, Steven Smith's side managed to turn the tide by winning the penultimate match of the series.
The Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium at Nagpur will host the fifth ODI on Sunday. Although the series is already out of their reach, the Aussies will be eager to salvage another consolation victory. If they manage to do so, then the 3-match T20I series will present them with an opportunity to draw parity as far as the overall tour is concerned.
Parallels from history
True to Kohli's declaration, India salvaged some pride by winning the fifth ODI in Sydney. They then proceeded to inflict a 3-0 whitewash on Australia in the ensuing T20I series.
For their sake, Australia will be hoping that they can recreate Kohli's prophecy on his own team. In an era where bilateral white-ball fixtures are crying for context, the addition of a points-based system (which was recently experimented by England) could allow struggling teams to claw their way back whilst infusing extra relevance to dead rubbers as well.