It’s been more than a year since Australia triumphed in an away ODI series. The last time they did that was in Sri Lanka in September 2016 when they beat the hosts 4-1. Following that, Australia have lost limited-overs bilateral series in South Africa, New Zealand and their latest defeat has been in India. They were whitewashed in South Africa, lost the three-ODI series 2-0 in New Zealand with the second match being abandoned due to rain and in India, they suffered yet again a heavy loss, 4-1 in the five matches.
Australia, despite having accomplished batsmen such as Steven Smith, David Warner, Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell, they produced low scores in India. In the first game, the T20 specialists in the Australian team with enormous T20 experience in India failed to chase down the target of 164 runs in 21 overs according to the D/L method. That was followed by Australia getting bundled out for a mere 202 runs. Then they failed to defend their total of 293 runs before they finally won an ODI on the tour, courtesy of their openers who allowed them to put up a 300+ total.
Amidst their batting woes during the India series, they had a player who managed to stick around in the middle of the collapses – Marcus Stoinis – and the fact that he had an experience of just three ODIs prior to the series made his effort even more significant. This was the first time when Stonis played five consecutive ODIs in a bilateral series.
Stoinis in India
When Australian fast bowlers Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson helped the visitors restrict India at 252, it was a great opportunity for the touring party to square off the series 1-1 in Kolkata. After the 76-run stand between Smith and Travis Head was broken, Stoinis joined hands with his skipper to help Australia crawl towards the target.
He watched four wickets fall in a jiffy that included Smith and the victims of Kuldeep Yadav’s hat-trick – Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins – however, the match was not over there. There, still was a stubborn Stoinis at the crease, who was determined to take Australia to the other side of the line. He found some support from Coulter-Nile at the bottom as the two put up 34 crucial runs. It was Richardson then who came out as the last wicket and the last hope for Stoinis to finish the game.
The 28-year-old tried to take the strike as much as he could. He went for the big hits and took a single on the last ball of the over to retain the strike and avoid Richardson to face the Indian ruthless attack. Richardson’s 16-minute stay at the crease was ended by Indian fast bowler Bhuveshwar Kumar who trapped him leg before wicket and it was for the second time in the last few months, Stoinis was stranded there, unbeaten, in a losing cause.
When Stoinis announced himself
Going back to Australia’s tour of New Zealand earlier this year, it was the second ODI in Auckland where Stoinis entered the limelight with an unbeaten 146 off 117 balls but unfortunately, he did not receive any support from the other batsmen and Australia lost the match by six runs. Four out of the top six batsmen were dismissed for a single digit but a one-ODI old Stoinis showed great integrity and character as he over came the immense pressure to fight until the last ball. His knock was inclusive of incredible 11 sixes and nine boundaries and it almost finished a miraculous of Australian chases in an ODI at the Eden Park.
Before the final ODI against India, Stoinis had 299 runs from seven matches at a mind-boggling average of 99.66. Now, after eight ODIs, Stoinis has been dismissed only four times and has a century, two fifties and two valuable innings in the 40s and averages 86.25. These numbers seem like a solution for Australia’s middle-order woes. What gave him an advantage from the other batsmen was that he was a first-timer in India and he studied the conditions well and did not take anything for granted. He suggested that he thought it was unreasonable for him to hit the big shots immediately in Indian conditions and applied the Test match-like application in order to set up for the big hits in the latter half of the game.
“I just want to get an understanding of the conditions – sometimes it takes five balls, sometimes it takes 20. I’m not really putting a number on that. It was a bit unrealistic for me to go in there and try and hit the first couple of balls for boundaries when you don’t know what the conditions are doing,” the batting all-rounder Stoinis said after Australia lost the series by going 0-3 down in the five-ODI series.
In the India series, out of the five ODIs, he was dismissed only in the two matches and on two occasions he had to bat with the tail during crucial situations, which was something new for him. In the Australian domestic circuit, Stoinis bats up the order so he did not have much experience of absorbing pressure and deliver during such moments and yet he managed to impress with his innings.
Stoinis, the solution?
The ODI series might have been no less than a nightmare for the touring party but Stoinis’ form came as a huge positive for them, keeping in mind both the formats, 50-over and Tests. he has played 43 First-Class matches in Sheffield Shield. He is all set to return to Western Australia after having four amazing years with Victoria Bushrangers. Victoria were the champions in the last three years – 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 – and Stoinis made notable contributions with both bat and ball in those seasons. In the 2014-15 season, he top-scored for Victoria with 785 runs at 49.06 in 10 matches, which was also his just second year with the club.
In the next two years, he gathered another 659 and 197 runs respectively and prior to the 2017-18 season, he has made a successful switch to his home club of Warriors. Along with the runs, he has consistently picked seven or eight wickets in the last few First-Class seasons.
With the likes of Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell performing poorly for a very long time, Stonis in the middle-order might work for the Australians. The No. 6 specialist will aim to do well early in Sheffield Shield for Warriors and bring himself in the eyes of the selectors ahead of the Ashes selection.