The caravan rolls on, one match after another, the setting almost the same, including the actors. The predictability factor of an Indian domination does not take away the sense of intrigue for the simple reason that Australia promises to claw its way back from the precipice.
The Jaipur experience came with a few bitter lessons for Australia even as India took stock of its reserve strength. As of now, there is plenty to cheer about for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s band of performers.
It can be tough to maintain a routine, but not if winning becomes a habit. There are men wanting to make an impact in this season of hope. Players like Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have taken long to become an integral part of the team. Virat Kohli has grabbed his slot as a matter of right and stayed in that zone with consummate ease.
In fact, Kohli brings a refreshing boost to the middle order. He can excel in all conditions since he draws enormously from his self-belief. Trust this dashing stroke-player to back himself against the best, losing little time to get into his act, batting with authority, resembling a man in a hurry to finish his job.
His aggression has an infectious bearing on the team, for he makes run-making look easy and enjoyable. The maturity that he brings to his batsmanship is a standout feature.
Rohit, acknowledged by all for his precocious batting talent, is beginning to accept his role and responsibility. “He has to put a value on his wicket,” was former Test batsman Pravin Amre’s suggestion.
Rohit has begun to put a value on his reputation too, the slackness now replaced by lazy elegance, a hallmark of class. Those sizzling drives at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium demonstrated his gift to pick the line and length earlier than any other batsman on view. True, Kohli breezed his way to a century, but Rohit played the defining innings of the contest.
The Australians can draw solace from the fact that they were pulverised by three men who batted with amazing intensity at the same time and made a mockery of the stiff target. It was hard to contain Dhawan, Rohit and Kohli and the Aussies too gave up pretty early. Even 359 proved tough to defend and therein lay a message.
The bowlers’ skills are being severely tested on placid tracks as the last two matches have shown, with close to seven runs being scored per over.
But this pitch gives hope to the bowlers. The curator, Daljit Singh, a batsman-wicketkeeper of repute, is known to support a fight. Expect a decent track with something for the bowler.
Indeed, it’s time bowlers, Indians in particular, made their presence felt in the series. The home attack has been flayed for over 300 runs in succession.
The other night, even in the delight of a nine-wicket victory, Mahendra Singh Dhoni made no secret of his displeasure over the lack of discipline by the pacers. Some ordinary fielding has also not missed the skipper’s watchful eyes.
The Australian batting has little to worry about. Its top six batsmen look in good touch following half centuries at Jaipur. The Australian bowlers, despite the mauling at Jaipur, will be looking to get into the Indian middle-order early. After all, the midriff of Indian batting is yet to pass a stiff test.
The teams, with plenty to draw from, will surely come hard at each other. Overall, a fair contest will add to the flavour indeed!
The teams (from):
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt.), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, R. Vinay Kumar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ambati Rayudu, Mohammad Shami, Jaydev Unadkat and Amit Mishra.
Australia: George Bailey (capt.), Shane Watson, Aaron Finch, Adam Voges, Glenn Maxwell, Callum Ferguson, Phil Hughes, James Faulkner, Moises Henriques, Brad Haddin, Xavier Doherty, Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay and Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Umpires: Richard Kettleborough and C. Shamsuddin; Third umpire: Anil Chaudhary. Match referee: Roshan Mahanama.
Keywords: India vs Australia ODI series