India Tour of Australia 2020-21: ODI Series Review
After the conclusion of the Indian Premier League 2020, the Bharat Army finally had the opportunity to see the Indian Cricket Team back in action. A long tour of Australia which started off with 3 match ODI series. The big talking point even before the series commenced was the absence of Vice-Captain Rohit Sharma who has been a pillar for the batting lineup and the paternity leave of Virat Kohli in Test matches.
Rohit Sharma's absence was felt within the first 2 matches as India faced the challenge of chasing mammoth totals in the 1st and 2nd ODI's. Australia pounced on any opportunity presented to them and more often than not created them to change the ebb and flow of the game. Here's a brief recap of how things turned out in the ODI series Down Under:
1st ODI (Sydney Cricket Ground)
[Toss: Australia, Bat First ]
It was great to see the Men in Blue back in action after a long time and the Bharat Army was right behind the team, supporting them as the12th man.
The Aus top order welcomed the touring side in style as they dismantled the Indian bowling to post a monstrous total of 374-6. The architects for Australia were David Warner, Aaron Finch, and Steve Smith who scored 69,114 and 105 respectively. Smith in particular just seemed in the zone as he scored his century in 62 balls.
To add the finishing touches to the innings was the Big Show - Glenn Maxwell. The Kings XI Punjab batsman who failed to hit a single six in IPL cruised to a 19 ball 45 which included 3 sixes.
Chasing such a big total, India got out of the blocks quickly. They needed to keep going to get close to the total but some quick wickets left India reeling at 101-4. One of those 4 wickets was of Virat Kohli who is arguably the best chaser in the history of the game.
Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya played well as they scored 74 and 90 before falling under the pressure of increasing run-rate. It was a disappointing performance from the visitors as Australia beat India comfortably by 66 runs.
2nd ODI (Sydney Cricket Ground)
[Aus won the toss, Bat First ]
If the bashing by the Australian batsmen in the 1st ODI wasn't enough, they piled on more misery in the second ODI. A new record was created as Australia became the first team whose top 5 batsmen all scored half-centuries.
The Aussie top order relished the toothless Indian bowling attack on a flat track. The star of the show was once again Steve smith who scored consecutive quick-fire centuries. He and the other batsmen were a different class as they thrashed India for 389 in their 50 overs.
It's not often that we see a target of 390 being chased. To chase such a big total with the run rate pressure you need at least 2 of your batsman to get massive hundreds. Sadly for Indian cricket fans, that did not happen. The closest a player came to score a century was Indian skipper Virat Kohli who narrowly missed out after a well-made 89.
KL Rahul was the other batsman who showed some resilience with his 76 runs. India fell short of the target as Australia cruised to an easy victory to seal the Series 2-0 with a game in hand. Pat Cummins was the star performer for Australia as he took three wickets to help his side.
3rd ODI ( Canberra)
[IND won the toss, Bat First ]
With the series already lost, India decided to test their bench strength making 4 changes to the team. The most notable being the debut of left-arm pacer Thangarasu Natarajan who has had a fascinating past few months playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad. King Kohli won the toss for a change and India looked to set a formidable total on a ground which had an average 1st inning score of 350.
The start for India was shaky as they lost an early wicket. Despite building partnerships, wickets continued to tumble at regular intervals. Kohli was the one who looked in ominous touch and set to score his first ODI century of 2020. However, against the run of play, Australia managed to dismiss King Kohli after a well made 63 to reduce India to 152-5. Virat Kohli ended 2020 without an ODI century, the first time since 2008.
It seemed as this would be yet another disappointing day for the Indian cricket fans but Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja had other ideas. A sensible batting initially to steady the ship and an attack in the death overs ensured India posted 302-5 at the end of 50 overs. Hardik finished with his highest ODI score of 92* while Jadeja scored 66*.
India still had a task at hand, keeping the in-form Aussie side quiet. David Warner was the notable name missing with an injury. The Indian pacers were able to get early wickets to put Aus on the backfoot. The most notable wicket being that of Steve Smith who had scored 2 centuries in the last 2 matches.
Skipper Aaron Finch continued his good form as he scored 75 before departing. Just when India looked like gaining control of the game, Glenn Maxwell threatened to take the game away. The explosive hitter was on the path to take his team home before India's main man Jasprit Bumrah did what he does best. He repaid the faith in him as he dismissed the set Maxwell to turn the tide in India's favour.
The Indian bowlers were clinical as they wrapped up the game to avoid a clean sweep. The star performer for India was Shardul Thakur who took 3 wickets including that of Smith to win the match. The win helped India keep the tradition of no team suffering a clean sweep in the Border-Gavaskar trophy alive.
Which team played better cricket? It was Australia over the 3 games and the result reflected the same. A 2-1 series win to start of the tour. Next up is the T20 series which promises to be a cracker.