India floored Australia in the 3rd ODI of the 5-match ODI series to regain the top spot in ICC ODI rankings and claim the series 3-0. The Men in Blue were a better side and outclassed Australia in all the departments to clinch the victory. Here are 5 talking points from the match:
Hardik Pandya is Virat’s key man
Call him India’s Ben Stokes, Pandya rather has went on to create a name for himself. He has slotted himself in as an all-rounder India was seeking for long. The cricketer from Mumbai has performed in all 3 areas with the bat, ball and while fielding. This game was another step up for him as he played a brilliant knock of 78 and took an important wicket in the first innings to break the partnership between Warner and Finch. Hardik enjoys the backing of his captain and justifies his place in the side whenever required. Not just his slaughtering of the bowlers but he has also deployed himself at the position of a finisher that India will need once former Skipper MS Dhoni hangs his boots from the game. The maturity and sensibility Hardik showcased in the run chase against Aussies in the 3rd ODI, reflects on his mental preparation for the finishing job. However he still is far away from that perfection that MS Dhoni graces, but Pandya is someone who gives it all and believes in training. He will be there someday, finishing big games for India just like the captain cool.
Rise of the Chinaman, Kuldeep Yadav
If there is one Indian bowler who has consistently troubled the Australian batting line-up, it has to be Kuldeep Yadav. The left-handed magician has been India’s most successful bowler in the series and once again on Sunday he was as effective. He first trapped Aaron Finch with his tricky ball got the Australian held at deep-midwicket. Kuldeep’s figures weren’t impressive until then; he had conceded 55 for his 7 overs before getting India there most important wicket of the match. Kuldeep then struck again in the 42nd over and got skipper Steve Smith walk towards the pavilion, the Aussie skipper had settled down well with 63 runs in his pocket and he knew Kuldeep has struck the chord with the two he removed. The Chinaman has so far picked up 7 wickets in the 3 games he has played in the series and shares the top spot in most wickets chart with Australia’s Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Ajinkya Rahane looks set to compete for the opening spot
With 130 runs in 3 matches, the Maharashtra batsman has averaged close to 44 and has grabbed the opportunity by its neck in the absence of Shikhar Dhawan. He hasn’t just scored runs but has built the innings and played perfect support for Rohit, the duo has kept Australian pacers under their belt with variations on their strike play and mindset. When Rohit fires, Rahane controls the innings and when Rohit slows down he ups the ante. It will be a crime to not play Rahane in the upcoming two ODIs, the experience he has got makes him fit for any batting position. On Sunday, Rahane hit a brilliant knock of 70 in 76 balls and provided India a strong base in the chase combined with Rohit Sharma. While Rohit was hitting the loose ones out of the park, Rahane was keeping it straight and simple with his marvelous run rotation. He has certainly put the team skipper and coach in a challenging situation, but overall it should be a good headache for them to take. Rahane was out of touch from quite some time and this series has been a positive sign for him, if not as an opener, Rahane can be back in the side in a more deeper role strengthening India’s middle order.
Australians need to beat the heat and the Indian batsmen
Steve Smith’s men have failed to find a way to stop the Indian batsmen, in the three matches so far they have conceded 727 runs in comparison to India’s 632, including two failed run chases which mean neither way it’s going right for the Aussies. Four out of the top five wicket-takers in the series are Indian, pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile is the only Australian in the best 5 with 7 wickets from 3 games. Now that speaks a lot about the average bowling temperament shown by the visitors in terms of stopping the Indian batting attack. Zampa and Faulkner were played for a match each and then dropped after skipper Smith was convinced that the duo can’t be of any damage to the mighty Indians and Faulkner haven’t had a good run with the bat either. In came Ashton Agar and Kane Richardson who share 6 wickets between them in 2 matches they have played. It is a positive sign for Australia but the infectivity to counter the stroke play from Indian top order and then rare trouble for the middle order is still a huge concern. The heat, on the other hand, has seemed to be a cause of trouble for the Aussies who are not acquainted with such weather and are continuously sweating during the fielding.
Australia’s middle order needs to fire
Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis have all failed to capitalise on the good start provided by their openers. The three scored 5, 4 and 27 runs respectively in the 3rd ODI which perhaps became the reason why Australia failed to surpass the 300 runs mark. The middle order is an integral order in any batting unit, failure to convert a good start into a big score on board has haunted teams for long and in this series, Australia has been a victim of the collapse. Only Australian skipper Steve Smith and opener Aaron Finch are placed in the top run-getters of the series. Stonis 92, Maxwell 58 and Head 48 are worrying signs for the visitors. And the scoreline is that way, despite getting enough batting opportunities.