Team India showed their strengths after defeating Australia in the third and final ODI to win the three-match series 2-1. India beat the hosts by seven wickets to clinch their maiden bilateral ODI series win on Australia soil. Virat Kohli ensured that he ended the tour on a satisfying note after not losing a single series across formats.
India travel to New Zealand next and they will be playing five ODIs and three T20Is against the in-form side. What’s crucial here is that India have 10 more ODI matches to suffice with ahead of the ICC World Cup 2019. Post the series against the Black Caps, India face Australia at home.
The World Cup starts from May 30 onwards in England and Wales and India just like all the other teams will be aiming to get the balance right. One would expect India to get the selection right in choosing the best 15 players that can go out and thrive in the conditions.
India are one of the favourites to win the coveted World Cup title and the win in Australia shows that they are heading in the right direction. The triumph would give Kohli & Co. a lot of confidence in expressing themselves in the upcoming ODI matches. India will be aiming to be more clinical at times and address the shortcomings that exist at the moment.
It is a learning curve for Kohli to prepare the side in the best possible manner as he is set to lead India for the first time in a World Cup.
Looking back at the 2-1 series win over the Aussies, there were some boxes that were ticked and it was the need of the hour. Here we look at the major conclusions from the series victory.
Mohammed Shami presents a case as the third pacer
India wanted a third pacer badly ahead of the World Cup. Over time, the management experimented with several bowlers, but none took the chances that came along the way. Now there is a hope with senior bowler Mohammed Shami in the mix.
Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are the two main pacers of this side and India needed someone that can chip in with the goods and be a calm influence. Shami impressed one and all with his consistency in Australia. He picked five wickets from three matches. What caught the eye was an impressive tally of 97 dot balls across these three games.
Shami has the knack of getting wickets and his experience can aid India. In the ICC World Cup 2015, he finished as the fourth highest wicket-taker (17). The conditions in New Zealand and then in the World Cup 2019 will assist the senior pacer. Moreover, India can go in with three genuine pace bowling options, who understand each other well.
One would have thought that perhaps Khaleel Ahmed is a sure shot option, given that he had been getting the opportunities. But Khaleel looks a bit raw and new to the scene, despite having the promise and abilities. Moreover, Shami’s experience adds the much-needed vitality for India to go in as a team with top quality attack.
Dinesh Karthik has the desired experience as a finisher
Dinesh Karthik may have missed out in the first ODI after looking to up the tempo in a crunch situation. But he received the backing of the side to do the job for them in the number six position. And in a pressure game in the second ODI, he came in and justified his selection. A 14-ball 25* helped India level the series. Karthik looks like someone who feeds off the pressure and thrives on these situations.
His blitz in the Nidahas Trophy final can never be forgotten. He has been donning the role of a finisher for Kolkata Knight Riders as well. So that helped the side bring forward their trust on the player. DK gave a decent account of himself as a number four in the Asia Cup 2018. But this new role suits him more.
Karthik brings in the stability as a player, who looks to be busy from ball one. He is one of the best fielders in the side as well. The veteran knows what he is expected to do and his calmness speaks volumes. Karthik will need to make the most out of the series against New Zealand next.
Some crucial innings there could give him the platform to become a consistent force going into the World Cup. He knows that a chance is there for taking and that means Rishabh Pant would need to wait a while longer for his opportunity.
Kedar Jadhav has come in to stake a claim
Kedar Jadhav brings so much to the table and he finds himself in the scheme of things once again. Jadhav was not selected in the starting XI for the first two matches. But he came in for the decider and showed exactly, why he needs to be given more chances. He is another player that thrives in difficult situations. We have witnessed his match-winning skills on numerous occasions.
Jadhav helped MS Dhoni at the MCG on the other end and made sure he stayed all the way through till the end. His unbeaten 61 helped India get the desired 131-run unbeaten partnership and he played to his strengths. India standing tall in the chase was a splendid joint effort from the duo.
In the final of the Asia Cup, it was Jadhav’s 23* that helped India win a thriller. Jadhav can bowl part-time spin and he could be set for a decent run of games ahead of the World Cup. The only issue for him is the hamstring problem that bothers him now and then. He will be hoping to stay fit and performances as such could see him keep his place in the starting XI.
If he is backed at number five, then MSD Could be promoted, which puts Ambati Rayudu out of the XI. India’s position here is pretty complex at the moment.
MS Dhoni ends series as India’s hero
When MS Dhoni took 96 balls to score 51 in the first match, there was a lot of talk about his abilities as a finisher and him stalling things down. Not many thought that he had come in with not much match practice. Also the situation at the SCG needed him to be more cautious with India being 4/3.
The time spent on the middle, helped Dhoni gain confidence. He got the hang of the conditions and grew along as time progressed. What followed was a 55* in Adelaide, where he won the match for India with a six and a single. The strike-rate improved considerably.
The innings also allowed Kohli the liberty to drop Ambati Rayudu for the decider and promote MSD to number four. Dhoni responded with a sublime 87* in the decider. Once again he was so calm and knew what he was going to do. As long as he was there, the camp would have settled down as well.
What MS showed was that he is still the best in business and his understanding of the situation is unmatchable. MSD can build the Indian innings time to time and can forge mega partnerships, as seen in this series.