“The Australian team management will hope that this is not a one-off performance from them and continue to impress in the next two matches”
In the absence of the regular pacers, it was a chance for some new fast bowlers to make a name for themselves in the first ODI at Sydney. That is exactly what happened when Jhye Ricardson and Jason Behrendroff opened the bowling, instead of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. With 288 on the board, it was a turn of a new-look Australian bowling attack to finish the job for the team and take a lead in the three-match series. It turned out to be a memorable day for both the bowlers as debutant Behrendroff struck in his very first over and Richardson not just picked up his best bowling figures his short ODI career, but his man of the match winning 4 for 26 are also now his best List A figures. In the Test series, the Aussie quicks came under the hammer, when their performance was compared to their Indian counterpart, but with Australia’s back-up bowlers doing a fine job, it has now further added a bit of depth in the squad.
They picked up three wickets between them in a span of 23 balls and conceded just four runs. Even a world-class side like India will find it difficult to recover from that. Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni then came together and stood tall. Their immediate aim was not to lose any more wickets and get their eye in. The bowlers saw this as an opportunity to pick up more wickets and put the game to rest. Their first spell together which was for nine overs cost them just 19 runs, but more importantly, the dangerous trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, and Ambati Rayudu were back in the pavilion. This is where some teams would let their guard down and take it lightly. However, the Australian bowlers were professional in their approach and knew even with three early wickets, they had to keeps their heads in the game to win the match.
Over the last few months, Richardson impressed everyone with his performances in the Sheffield Shield and also the Big Bash League (BBL). He has impressed for Western Australia, picking up 27 wickets in the 2018-19 season to go with his 18 in the previous season. His is no mug with the bat either, having already struck three First-Class fifties two of which came in back-to-back matches in November 2018 against Queensland and South Australia. Following a decent show in the BBL, he was immediately included in the Australian ODI squad and did not disappoint. He can bowl at 140-plus on a regular basis and his lines, and lengths against India were impeccable.
Behrendroff, a lanky, left-arm pacer, took India by storm at first, in a T20I at Guwahati in October 2017, in only his second international match. His finished with 4 for 21 – India’s top 4 – consisting of Rohit, Dhawan, Kohli and Manish Pandey. He was also in fine form in the BBL, having picked up 8 wickets from 6 matches and with the regulars missing in action, his inclusion in the team was a little surprising. Australia have further depth in their squad with Billy Stanlake in the squad, who can extract a lot of bounce, given his height, just like Behrendroff.
Added to this, Australia have someone like Marcus Stoinis, who can also chip away with some useful, economical overs to put more pressure on the batting team. He was a tad expensive today, but with his clever variations, he can cause some damage. If he keeps going like this there is little doubt that he is going to be the No. 1 choice for the all-rounder’s spot, even with Mitchell Marsh’s availability. That could be the case in the Tests too.
However, coming back to Richardson and Behrendroff, Australia will be relieved that they have found enough depth in the fast bowling department given that their regular fast bowlers have been rested after a hectic Test series. Hopefully, they will be able to break into the full-fledged Australian side on a regular basis. With the World Cup around the corner, it will not be the worst idea to give get some new faces some game time. If they lead the way in a series win against a top side like India, they should certainly be in the reckoning. Their performance is like a leash of fresh breath for the nation. They have blended into their roles extremely well, which bodes well for Australia.
The Australian team management will hope that this is not a one-off performance from them and continue to impress in the next two matches.