India vs Australia | Takeaways: Importance of Bhuvneshwar’s 100 wickets and Shaun Marsh solution for Australia

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India vs Australia | Takeaways: Importance of Bhuvneshwar’s 100 wickets and Shaun Marsh solution for Australia

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Bastab K Parida

01/12/2019

Australia romped to an easy victory in the first ODI at the SCG after a fine bowling display by Jhye Richardson. In a game, India lost three wickets for four runs, Shaun Marsh gave a huge silver lining for Australian cricket and Rohit Sharma made sure that India had another chaser in their ranks.

Putting Bhuvneshwar’s 100 wickets into perspective

19 bowlers in Indian cricketing history have achieved the milestone of 100 ODI wickets and Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the fourth slowest to reach the target. While in no certain way, that could be called as great, it would also be unfair on the pacer from Meerut if we look at his records purely on “average” point of view. His contribution goes beyond bare statistics. 

Remember Fanie de Villiers. The South African overcame physical setbacks and language prejudice by the cricketing community, and came to his own and formed a lethal pair with Alan Donald. He was as good a player as one could get, but was always under his more illustrious peer’s shadows. More so because he never really focused on picking wickets - that was easily done by Donald - and his main job was to contain runs and build pressure from the other end.

Look at Bhuvneshwar now. He averages 38.12 in ODI cricket and has a strike rate of 45.66, but he is the reason Jasprit Bumrah picks wickets more often than not. There is a cricketing logic to back that up. Bhuvneshwar gets close to the stumps on his delivery stride, and that makes the life tough for the batsman as they remained with less pronounced angles to play with. With Bhuvneshwar strangling the batsmen from that point of view, Bumrah becomes deadly dangerous with his unorthodox angle. So, the pacer might have taken as many as 96 matches to take 100 ODI wickets, but his economy and impact make him an important cog in the Indian side.

Shaun Marsh’s ODI batting bright spot for Australia

Shaun Marsh is a stunning paradox in the Australian cricket. They would probably have to appoint a separate statistician to count how many recalls Marsh has had even since making his ODI debut in 2008. However, it seems like the elder of the Marsh brothers is finally settling his place down in the team. After the Cardiff century against England, Marsh scored one more at Chester-le-Street before smashing one more against South Africa in Hobart in November. And today’s innings proved that Australia have settled at least one spot is final squad for the World Cup.

Most impressive of Marsh’s batting today was the way he countered India’s spinners. While much has been written about Australia’s struggles against spin, Marsh was more than comfortable against both Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. It was sharply different from the team’s approach in the last four years. To be very precise, since the last World Cup at home, Australia’s batting average against spin is a lacklustre 35.51, which is the seventh best in the world. 

It shows a pertinent problem in their ODI batting. They tried to attack more against the spinners, without an understanding of the craft which means they were dismissed more often while playing attacking shots. But Marsh’s innings was more gritty than flashy. Neither did he try to outplay the duo of Jadeja and Kuldeep, but he chose the front square as his scoring area to play one fine innings. His consistent performances in the ODI cricket lately augurs well for Australia going into the World Cup and they will need Marsh to keep on playing with such maturity in the upcoming matches.

Rohit Sharma and the right approach to ODI batting

There is a very particular way Rohit Sharma scores "daddy centuries" - start slowly, bide your time, build up momentum through the middle overs, and then go berserk in the last ten. It might sound a pretty easy plan, but Rohit has perfected the art. While having stroke players like Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli around him is an advantage for him, this innings was different. India were 4/3 down and pulling the team out of the situation required his immense amount of concentration.

After being on 12 off 33 balls, and seeing MS Dhoni struggling at the other end, Rohit could have been impatient and tried unleashing his attacking self. But instead, he waited for the bad balls to put off and targeted the slower balls more than the pacers. He understood the importance of the innings and played accordingly, without forgetting the basics of his style. Most importantly, the innings came in the run-chase, where Virat Kohli is a master and that can certainly not be said about Rohit. But the way he did it before perishing to a slower ball had a certain charm to it.

The acceleration may look predictable because of the three double centuries that he has had to his name, it needs a perfect combination of skill, fitness and the right mental approach to ODI batting to be able to be so successful. He culminated everything literally and with the presence of MS Dhoni, he stayed calm to put India on the brink of a win. Rohit definitely would be proud of his effort.

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