by Sumit Srivastava
Just before the start of the series, things were looking bleak for India. They came to the India Australia ODI series after two big failures in ICC World Twenty20 in England and ICC Champions Trophy 2009 in South Africa. Many of the players were not fit. Bowling and fielding disciplines were not in the best of shape and the sacking of the bowling and fielding coaches did not give the right signals either.
On the other hand, the Kangaroos were jumping really high after thrashing England 6-1 in the ODI series and then ending the ICC Champions Trophy 2009 on a victorious note. But there were worries for the Aussies too. Seven front line players were missing from the Australian line up but still Australia, being the best side of the world, could not be taken lightly.
When Australia had set a victory target of 251 in Mohali and Virender Sehwag went berserk, the Indians would have hoped of a 3-1 lead. But the Australians showed that they are the real World champions and levelled the series with a comprehensive win.
Despite missing most of their front line players, Australians have shown great character. Australian batsmen may not have set the stadium alight by putting up grand totals but their bowling has come really good, barring the Nagpur ODI. The quickies have bowled at 145+ km/h regularly and hit the deck hard by bending their backs.
Off spinner Nathan Hauritz may not have the class or experience of Shane Warne but certainly he has proved to be more than a useful bowler, especially on the Indian wickets. He has bowled well within himself. He has bowled in good areas and has taken wickets at crucial junctures.
But the real difference has been the fielding. Australian fielding, as always, has been of the highest quality and it will play a decisive role in the rest of the series too. In all the four matches played so far Australian fielders have saved at least 20-25 runs in each game. The hit/miss ratio has been on the higher side for Australians too.
Apart from the Vadodara ODI, the Indian bowlers have done a respectable job by restricting the Australian batsmen. But Harbhajan Singh’s form has been a big concern for Indian captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Although he bowled much better in Delhi and Mohali, still he has been scored off quite easily. It will be interesting to see how he bowls in Hyderabad where the pitch offers some bounce.
In the batting department, India has some worries too. Except Gautam Gambhir and M.S.Dhoni, no other batsman has really fired. Be it Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag or Sachin Tendulkar, they all have got starts but none of them could convert their starts into big ones.
Besides Australian captain Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, the other young Australian batsmen don’t use their feet against the spinners and this is causing their downfall. Earlier, the Australian teams that travelled to India had players like Allan Border, David Boon, Dean Jones in 1980s, Mark Taylor, Waugh brothers in 90s who used their feet against the spinners.
They also had batsmen like Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden, who employed sweep shots to perfection against the Indian spinners. The young Australian batsmen should start using their feet or sweeping against the spinners if they want to make runs against some quality spin bowling.
The Indian team has missed a golden chance to take a 3-1 lead in the series. Hopefully, Gautam Gambhir will be back for the fifth match and that should boost the Indian batting line up because he has been instrumental at number three slot.
The Hyderabad pitch produced a lot of runs in the just concluded Champions League Twenty20 and it should be a good contest there. The score line 2-2 shows that both the teams have played good cricket so far and hopefully we should be in for some really high quality cricket over the next few days.