And the comeback is complete!
No wonder making a comeback is becoming second nature for the Indian team. Be it West Indies or Australia, this team knows how to perform when the opponent is second-guessing them. Perhaps, this team gets a bit complacent while entering a new series.
Albeit, this team somehow finds a way to win a series; and, this Paytm series against Australia was no different. The first match was a drubbing; a 10-wicket defeat was a flashback of the early 2000s. So much was the domination of the Kangaroos that even Virat Kohli admitted that he went wrong with his experiment of setting KL Rahul as the no 3 for the Indian team.
However, a good player knows how to set things right and, Virat Kohli is no different. He immediately rectified the error in the second ODI, batted on his spot and the result is in front of everyone.
Fire or Back-fire!
Besides that, there is a matter which is under scrutiny for a long time. This Indian team needs to find a way in situations where the front three fails to perform as a unit. The difference between the first and the remaining two matches was clear like daylight. In the first match, the team choked the moment top three and Virat Kohli departed. Thus scoring only a paltry sum of 258 runs which was chased well under 40 overs without a loss of a single wicket.
However, in the second match, it was the duo of Dhawan and Kohli who laid the platform which was well-utilized by KL Rahul and the rest in the death overs. Hence, putting a target of 340 runs well above the first innings average total in Rajkot. With high stakes in the third ODI, Australia played the series-defeat in its own hands. Asking India to chase that too on a Chinnaswamy wicket was a daring decision, which backfired. Chasing is India’s comfort zone, the Chase-Master is the skipper and performs best when chasing; huh! This asked for trouble. Nevertheless, the skipper and his deputy ensured that India kills the series to death and round-up a “comprehensive” home season.
Regardless of the dominating season, the middle-order not performing under pressure is a thing which needs fine-tuning to avoid a face-saving defeat against the Kiwi’s later this month.
KL Rahul and his versatility:
MS Dhoni touted Rahul as a fighter when he debuted for India against Australia in Melbourne in 2014-15 tour of India. Although he announced himself with a century as an opener, he started as a no 5 batsman in the Indian setup. FYI, these two instances happened in the same match.
Cut to the present series, KL Rahul has batted in three different positions in this series. As a no 3 in the first match, no 5 in the second and, as an opener in the third; and, one cannot argue that he has not performed in any of these positions. In the first match, he grinded to create a platform for the rest to flutter. In Rajkot batting at No. 5, an experiment that lasted only one match, Rahul responded with a 52-ball 80 to take India to 340. Finally, in the decider, though he scored just 19 runs, the manner of him deflating the Australian bowling attack to set a stage for Virat Kohli was appreciatable.
If you don’t get what you like, like what you get is the story of KL Rahul. After years of his talent’s hype, he finally looks home with this experimenting set-up. Moreover, his batting abilities to bat anywhere in the batting order might solve India’s problem of finding a player who can fill(at least in terms of batting) the shoes of Yuvraj Singh.
What’s the future of Rishabh Pant?
If KL Rahul solves India’s post-Yuvraj Singh woes in batting, he can also be a replacement of MS Dhoni. This series has also produced a different side of KL Rahul. In spite of him keeping the wickets earlier for Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab, doing the same for India is a different task altogether. Nonetheless, Virat Kohli constantly pointing out his new keeper’s effort will also boost the player’s confidence in this new sector.
Howbeit what is the future of Rishabh Pant? The fact that he was fit yet he was dropped for the last ODI shows that the Indian set-up is running out of patience with the swashbuckling Delhi left-hander. Moreover, the versatility and the experience that KL Rahul provides to bat anywhere in the batting and any situation with his improving wicket-keeping skills is a certain threat to Rishabh Pant who is not performing the way team wants him.
Change in tactics:
If someone back in the early 2000s said that one day Indian ODI team will depend on pacers instead of spinners then we would have laughed that person off. However, this is the reality of the India cricket team. Post-Dhoni-era is seeing a change in approach. Rather than banking on the spinners to get the break-through in the middle over, this Virat Kohli-led team is leaning on the shoulders of its pacers to do the damage in the final stages where the batsmen are looking accelerate the innings.
Like batting, the team is highly dependent on the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Shami with a weak link bonding the two. Saini is new and needs time, Thakur was taken for cleaners against this strong Australian side, Bhuveneswar Kumar is injured and Umesh Yadav is nowhere to be seen. If ever there happens a match where these two stalwarts don’t get the necessary wickets, this team has no one who can stop the wagging tail of an opponent.
Though the men in blue are conditioned for foreign conditions, will they able to take the Kiwis in their background is a question that will be answered at the end of this month.