Who is to blame for India's loss to Australia
Another game, another ray of hope, another position of strength and yet another loss for the Men in Blue. The series rolls on like a deja vu over and again. Scoring close to 300 in the first three games- and all three games ending with record chases by Australia- it is almost shambolic and gut wrenching for an Indian fan to see his team falter to get over the line again and again.
The 4th game finally saw India chasing. Something changed. Wasn’t the Aussie intent, though. They rolled on to score a colossal 348. Honestly, it could have been worse had India not pegged back the Australian juggernaut at the dying stages of the innings.
India’s slide into oblivion
With Rahane not in a position to bat, not many gave India a snowball’s chance in hell. Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan had other ideas though. Rohit creamed the Australian attack to all places of the ground before he played one shot too many. That got Kohli to the crease and the heartthrob anchored yet another masterclass arm-in-arm with Shikhar Dhawan to take India seemingly to the brink of their first success on the Australian soil this tour.
But destiny was yet to play its part. And then it unfolded. Oh, the horror! The turn of events that would give The Exorcist a run for all money. From needing 70 at below run a ball with 9 wickets in hand to a shameful 25-run victory.
Dhoni often believes, as portrayed in his post-match statements that the bowling is what has let the team down time and again. Honestly, if you’re given an airport of a surface to bat on, there is not much one can do as a bowler. And flat as airport runways the pitches were, as essayed by the true bounce and staggering match aggregates in each game.
Did our bowlers really let us down? If life gives you lemons, are you expected to make Orangeade?
The Selection Conundrum
When the team for Australia was announced, there was an element of freshness in the squad. You had Mann coming in, Sran was a surprise pick and it also paved the way for Manish Pandey to pave his way to the national setup.
But there were a few surprises on the store too. Match-winner Suresh Raina was dropped following his below par outing against the Saffers at home. Yuvraj Singh, riding on the back of some excellent domestic form was recalled only for the T-20s.
The middle order instantly looked devoid of an enforcer, a power-hitter. Apart from Dhoni at number 5, there was no real player to provide impetus lower down the order. The mix of an ominous Indian batting line-up suddenly began showing signs of vulnerability.
The curious case of Ravichandran Ashwin
As to how your best bowler for the last year and a half can be dropped after 2 average games is beyond a sane mind’s peripheral view. Indeed, Ashwin struggled in the two matches he played but he is not going to get any better bowling on foreign soils by merely warming the bench.
Dhoni might have been inclined to take Rishi Dhawan to bolster the pace attack and keep Jadeja in the side owing to his batting prowess, but to drop Ashwin, your best bowler simply fails to make much sense, more so after an improved showing in the second ODI. Even Bhuvaneshwar Kumar’s selection on the hard and bouncy pitches of Australia over Ishant Sharma’s hit-the-deck bowling was a tad bit surprising.
The Middle Order Woes
The Middle order looks like a bit of a skeleton with no flesh right now. This can amply be indicated by the following mind-boggling statistic:
|Last 4 ODI’s||Runs||Balls|
As is amply seen from the following statistic, there simply has been no impetus from the middle and lower order who have invariably walked in to bat after the 40th over of the game. In almost 16 overs the lower middle order has faced, it has scored hardly at a run-a-ball. Is it par? Is the theory that they haven’t faced enough balls to be tested good enough?
It is one thing if a team is consistently outplayed to be whitewashed in a bilateral encounter. Should Australia go on to win the next game, I daresay this can be touted as the most closely fought whitewash ever afflicted. To be fair, India had ample of opportunities to be 4-0 up rather than down in the course of this series, but a few mistakes here and there have cost the team dearly.
Whether it was the selection, the middle order, some woeful captaincy or simply bad bowling as pointed by the captain remains to be a matter of perception. However, what is certain is the fact that India really need to pull up their socks if they want to hold up against world-class teams like Australia. At a time when the margin for error is almost negligible, the number of mistakes that can be pointed out in the course of the ongoing series will certainly require more than just 10 fingers.