The story of Australia's remarkable turnaround
Not so long ago, Australian cricket found itself in utter turmoil at home against belligerent India. They not only suffered a loss against the touring men in blue for the first time ever in Test series on Australian soil but also suffered an ignominious defeat in the ODI series that followed.
No one then could have actually thought about such a remarkable comeback from the Aussies. But, then we are talking about the Aussies, right? And even though this generation of Australian cricket may not have as much talent as their golden generations of Waugh, Warne, McGrath and so on, they still seem to possess the reminiscence of their attitude which by the way, is by far the biggest treasure of Australian sport, not only cricket in general. And in the case of Australian cricket, it is safe to say that if not talent, the Aussie attitude will definitely take them home.
Following their debacle against the Indians and hefty criticism that was lashed on them from all around the cricketing world, this team has shown tremendous character in bouncing back, once again showing the world what Aussies are made up of. No wonder, they are now reaping the rich dividends of their persistence and self-belief in the ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE.
The incredible turnaround began at The Gabba, Brisbane in the first Test of the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka. If the first Test was set up by their bowlers, the second Test was literally owned by their batsmen and the Aussies came on top against the Islanders, comprehensively dominating them by the margin of 2-0.
Following the win against toothless Sri Lanka at home which rather gave an impression like a consolation victory than anything else, the next thing on the radar for Australia was the rigorous make or break tour of India.
Taking on Indians in India who seemed to be on a roll was perhaps the biggest litmus test for Aussies before the World Cup in UK later this year. The Australians had looked clueless at home against the Indians, lost in their own misery and their complete demolition by the home team in both T20s and ODIs looked completely possible before the start of their tour, at least after coming across tremendous difference in the performances of both these teams just a month ago.
But, Australia under Aaron Finch, who himself looked wobbly, fighting the internal demons, shocked the Indians in the 2-match T20 series as the men in yellow clean swept the hosts in the two-match T20I series. Glenn Maxwell's unbeaten hundred in the second T20 meant Australia even chased down the uphill target of 191 with relative ease. No wonder, no one would have expected such a dominant performance from the Aussies coming in to the series.
If their performance in the T20 series spoke about their talent and ability, their stellar performance to win the ODI series 3-2 from the jaws of defeat after trailing 0-2, spoke highly about the character of the players and within the team. From making a mockery of a huge total of 359, to chase from a point where the home team India looked in complete control of the proceedings, is a testimony to the team’s batting depth and resilience.
In fact, the turnaround in fortunes of Australian cricket team revolves around astute, sensible, aggressive and street-smart batting performances from various different people at variety of different junctures. Be it Usman Khawaja’s consistency at the top, Aaron Finch’s occasional flurry amidst inconsistency, Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb’s stability in the middle order and finish from the likes of Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Ashton Turner, all have played their parts effectively, bringing back the lost dignity and glory to the team.
The purple patch that Australia hit on the Indian shores has also transcended into the UAE and their authoritative 8-wicket wins over Pakistan in both the first and second ODI is nothing short of spectacular.
Their bowlers have ably done the supporting job, but, this time its Australia’s batting that has won them the accolades in recent times. The batting that let them down throughout their summer at home, is finally winning them matches and this augurs extremely well for the Aussies heading into the World Cup.
With 3 ODIs still to go against Pakistan in the deserts of UAE, Australia will not only look forward to continuing their merry ways but also wish to wrap up the series as soon as possible and make sure all their bases are covered before they board that World Cup flight to the UK later this year.
The most likely return of former captain Steven Smith and explosive opening batsman David Warner to the World Cup squad will only add a great deal of depth and experience to the already rejuvenated Australian batting line-up.
With the defending champions Australia finally looking in great shape and balance before the onset of World Cup, it adds yet another dimension to the marquee event which is just over two months from now.