India vs Australia | Winners and Losers ft. Dinesh Karthik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the Aussies

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India vs Australia | Winners and Losers ft. Dinesh Karthik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the Aussies

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Subhayan Dutta

03/14/2019

After succumbing to a home series defeat under Virat Kohli’s captaincy, the equation might just have changed for the Men in Blues ahead of the much-awaited World Cup. The three ODI losses on the trot could now see some players, who might have given up hope, getting right into the scheme of things.

Winners

Dinesh Karthik

There is not an ounce of doubt that things have changed drastically for Dinesh Karthik over the last two weeks. The Nidahas Trophy hero was very much a part of India’s limited-over plans until the Australia ODI series squad was announced. The 33-year-old veteran was supposed to bow out after the T2OI series that India lost 2-0 and focus on the IPL for his international career was almost done. However, now with Rishabh Pant failing magnanimously both behind and in front of the stumps and the management refraining from using KL Rahul as Dhoni’s backup, Karthik looks like the sole viable option for the Men in Blue. Since coming back into the side in 2017, Karthik has played 20 ODIs making 425 runs and has shown reliable hands as well, and with India playing as quite a few games before the knockout stages, Karthik would be needed to ease Dhoni's workload. Despite Kohli reiterating time and again that IPL wouldn’t be used as a parameter to judge players for World Cup squad selection, Karthik knows really well that he has got a shot at glory now.

Usman Khwaja

Australia were approaching the World Cup as underdogs after many years, and after losing the first two ODIs in Hyderabad and Nagpur, they needed a miracle to overturn the series and change the popular opinion. And just like Sri Lanka, who thrashed South Africa in the Proteas' own backyard, a side devoid of stars managed to pull off a historic series win on Indian soil. While many contributed to the cause in bits and pieces, the one player who was as consistent as misery on the Indian camp, was Usman Khwaja. The left-handed orthodox batsman was never out of form in the ODI format, scoring 50 and 38 in his side’s losing cause as well, but he really stepped up his game when Australia needed it the most. Hitting two centuries and a 91 in the last three matches was one of the significant reasons why Australia dared to challenge this Indian side in their backyard.

The Australian Team

How the times have changed for the Kangaroos in a matter of weeks! They had arrived India at the back of a historic Test series defeat as Virat Kohli and Co. were hailed as the strongest World Cup contenders with a string of beautiful performances away from home. Australia were still recovering from the scathing criticisms of Steve Smith and David Warner’s wrongdoings and the home defeat couldn’t have come at a poorer time. Star player and skipper Aaron Finch was also blowing hot and cold as they came to take on India. However, now with this series win and both Smith and Warner returning to strengthen the side, they would again be pegged as one of the title contenders. With Khwaja shoring up the top-order, fitting well between Smith and Warner, Adam Zampa has instilled the much needed spunk with his spin bowling. Pat Cummins would be a solid assist for Mitchell Starc, who had missed the India trip, and while an in-form Finch can give opponents the brutal start he is known for. Whatever Australians had lost over the last one year, they have near got everything back, even their reputation.

Losers

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KL Rahul

If sheer misfortune had a face, it has to KL Rahul at the moment. It all started with the talk show where Hardik Pandya’s comments had taken his mate down along with him in serving the punishment. Since then, although Rahul has answered his critics on the field, his fate has turned its face away. He managed scores of 89 and 81 against the England Lions and followed it up with impressive scores of 50 and 47 against Australia in T20I series. As if that didn’t seem enough proving his mettle, Rahul was then asked to bat at no. 4 in the 4th ODI against Australia in Mohali. An offensive batsman by nature, Rahul was bound to falter in that position and he eventually ended up scoring 26 runs. Things look grim for the once considered batting prodigy as even in the struggling times of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, the management didn’t bother to hand him a chance up top, as they did with most other positions. While he is likely to travel to the World Cup as a backup opener, with Kohli stating that every position in the first eleven is sorted out, Rahul’s immediate future has hit a bit of impasse.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Only until some months back, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was counted amongst the two best death-over bowlers alongside compatriot Jasprit Bumrah, but how the mighty have fallen! After a hot and cold IPL season last year, where the pacer missed a chunk of the games owing to injury, his lower back injury had aggravated on the English Tour and he ended up missing it all. Though he did have few sparks in the Asia Cup matches against Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the Adelaide ODI during the Australian tour, his breakthroughs have diminished at an alarming rate. He did show some consistency in New Zealand taking seven wickets in five matches, but his return on Indian soil has been hardly impressing. Though he scalped three wickets in on Wednesday, he had gone for a mammoth 67 runs in Mohali and looked, unusually I might add, out of place in the death overs. To further compound his struggles, India have found an able alternative in Mohammed Shami who has partnered with Bumrah well in the ODI and T20I series. With India likely to start with two specialist bowlers alongside Pandya in their first eleven in the World Cup, Bhuvi could get a backseat with Shami’s re-emergence.

Indian selectors

Virat Kohli seemed quite assured and confident about India’s World Cup preparations after the 3-2 ODI series defeat on Wednesday. And while he was believable to some extent, for Australia didn’t have to face a lot of India’s strength in the last three ODIs, but deciding such an underperforming team to basically perform at the stage rehearsal of the World Cup could prove to be suicidal. It is as if the selectors wanted to try each and every player on their wish list in a space of five ODIs. As a result, not only are the fans confused as hell but so should be the dressing room, no matter how much Kohli pacifies that the players are not panicking there. If drilling down the hole in the team’s morale that sucked up most of their confidence wasn’t enough, India might just have handed Australia the biggest boost ahead of the extravaganza. And all the experimentations for what? India are more confused than ever about their No. 4, Dhoni has been demoted and promoted and is eventually being called a “floater”, even if that means something.

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