One-Day Internationals (ODIs) between India and Australia have a reputation for producing high-scoring games. The two giants of the game have some serious ammunition in their batting artillery and have done well in scripting numerous records over the years. In fact, prior to the start of the series, the average first-innings total between these two teams was 321 since January 2012. But, the recently concluded ODI series saw some fantastic bowling performances from both the sides and produced intense games with challenging totals.
In 10 innings, a 300-run mark was breached on a solitary occasion by both the teams, which came at Bangalore. The latest encounter saw India thrashing Australia by seven wickets and register a win to seal the series 4-1. Indian batsmen did a fantastic job on a tricky Nagpur pitch, where there was turn and some deliveries stopped. With this win, India have regained their No.1 ODI ranking and will be the team to beat henceforth. Australia were completely outplayed in the series barring the fourth ODI at Bangalore.
Most of the games provided great help for the bowlers, which is rare in modern-day cricket. With king-sized bats, shorter boundaries and two new balls coming into play, a bowler’s life has become difficult. It’s a proven fact that – cricket gets more intense when conditions are bowling-friendly. And the series did produce certain wickets that were bowling friendly. Australian batsmen failed to back their bowlers, which cost them the series. India put up a solid all-round show – when their batting didn’t live up to the expectations, their bowling got the job done whereas Australia were let down by their batsmen at crucial junctures.
The series opener was played at Chennai. The pitch had some bounce and movement for the bowlers to exploit. India were under the pump at 11 for 3, but MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya rescued the Indian innings with the bat. Batting initially looked difficult on this surface and demanded patience. Before this game, the average first innings score was 264 at this venue and India were just above the mark with 281 runs on the board. Nathan Coulter-Nile made the utmost use of the new ball, but India’s solid depth in batting saw them posting a competitive total. Indian bowlers ensured they carried the team over the line as spinners and seamers combined well to keep the Australian batsmen under check.
The pitch at Kolkata for the second encounter was a difficult surface to bat on. It had some grass covered on it and turned out to be a two-paced wicket. There was swing with the new ball for seamers and turn for the spinners. Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson did extremely well in restricting the dominant Indian batting to 252.
At the end of first innings, many believed India had enough runs on the board by looking at the way pitch had behaved so far. Bhuvneshwar Kumar got the ball to swing both ways and produced one of the best spells of his career while Kuldeep Yadav inscribed his name with a hat-trick. Chahal and Pandya also picked a couple of wickets each to derail Australia for 202.
Indore was a pretty flat track and a score of 300 above looked on the cards. Australia were well on course of achieving it, but a middle-order collapse didn’t let them achieve fruitful results. They still had 294 runs to battle with, but Indian batsmen came out hard and chased down the target without any hassle.
Just like Indore, Bangalore too had enough assistance for the batsmen and Australia did well in capitalising on the gigantic opening stand. They crossed the 300-run mark for the first time in the series. India threatened to gun down the target, but some outstanding fielding and bowling in the ultimate stages helped Australia record their first win of the series after being 3-0 down.
Coming back to Nagpur, the wicket was dry and slow. This was not a 300-run pitch, as scoring briskly was not easy. But, Indian openers once again came out hard and Rohit Sharma, after an initial struggle, played a splendid innings to steer India to command. Rohit smashed his 14th ODI ton and sixth against Australia to finish as the leading run-scorer in the series. Australia managed a modest 242, which initially looked tricky, but the opening stand between Rahane and Rohit squashed all the doubts regarding this being a tricky chase.
India have developed into an unstoppable force and one of the key reasons behind it has been their inspiring bowling. Had the Australian batsmen fired this series would have certainly had more intensity and flavour as most of the games had a lot to offer to the bowlers. India will now lock horns with Australia in a three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series and the visitors will look to finish the tour on a high.