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India vs Australia | Takeaways: Australia's successful Maxwell formula and Vijay Shankar’s day-out in Nagpur

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India vs Australia | Takeaways: Australia's successful Maxwell formula and Vijay Shankar’s day-out in Nagpur

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Bastab K Parida


Vijay Shankar kept his calm under pressure to hand India a solid eight-run victory in Nagpur and in the process, he strengthened his chances for the World Cup even more. However, it was Marcus Stoinis’ innings which could divide opinion for his conservative approach towards the end.

Why Australia brought Maxwell so early

Amidst all the flat Indian wickets in the last decade, it is easy to forget that the country had a demonstrated history of producing turning tracks even during the limited-overs matches. India’s rapid stride with the bat ever since the ICC Knockout Trophy in 2000 changed the way pitches were being prepared and today, you didn't need to watch more than five overs to understand that Nagpur deck was different than the usual. Despite the track had some dead grass on it, it was evident from the look that the underneath soil had broken up and it would be more pronounced once the game progressed. 

The humid atmosphere meant the density of the air was thicker as compared to the previous game in Hyderabad. That struck Australia captain Aaron Finch’s mind as he brought Glenn Maxwell followed by Adam Zampa in the 7th over of the innings. With Jason Behrendorff not playing, Finch adopted a slight adjustment to his bowling order as he gave the new ball to Pat Cummins, allowing the spinners to get a crack at the Indian batting order inside the first powerplay, with seven fielders being inside the circle.

The second school of thought could have been to expose Shikhar Dhawan’s fragile batting display against the off-spinners. The Delhi batsman had problems against the ball turning away from him and considering the Magnus effect adding drift to Maxwell’s deliveries, it resulted in problems for Dhawan. All in all, it was a good decision by Finch and worked out perfectly well as the Victorian dismissed him with a classic finger-spin.

Vijay Shankar’s audacious batting earned him more than one fan

Vijay Shankar is a batsman first and a bowler second. However, if anyone has only followed him in the international cricket, he might come across as a different commodity as India has primarily converted him to a bowling all-rounder. He wanted a chance for himself to prove his worth as a batsman and when he was promoted to No. 5 today, it was apparent that he was in the mood to do well.

He was flawless with the bat and using the slowness off the surface, he kept himself deep to hit a six and four against Marcus Stoinis. However, his approach against Adam Zampa was interesting. First of all, he found out that 80% of his deliveries were tossed up deliveries and the sliders were coming in with the arm. It seemed like Shankar played him like an off-spinner and due to the drift causing because of the air, he stayed inside the line. It helped him get a firm footing and put him at a position where he could have gone on to score a big one.

On the other hand, Ambati Rayudu found himself under the scanner for his batting display that evoked the memories of Manish Pandey. His confidence, it seemed, had taken a severe beating and he was not the same batsman who scored an eye-catching 90 in Wellington. Now, with Shankar oozing class with his display, it suddenly created some pressure on Rayudu and how he can come out of it in the next three matches will be interesting.

Smart cricket or overconfidence?

Marcus Stoinis doesn’t have the swag of a Glenn Maxwell not does he have the confidence to play the off-side strokes like a Peter Handscomb. However, he does have a big heart to belt it out as was proved in the last edition of the Big Bash League where his batting was the reason behind Melbourne Stars reaching the finals of the tournament.

Today, the Victorian had an opportunity to take the team down the line and his 50 had struggle, sweat, and also the class written over each run. He knew that it was not an easy wicket to bat on and with the wickets tumbling at the other end, he couldn’t have afforded to give the strike to the other batsmen. Especially after Jasprit Bumrah picked up a couple of wickets in the 46th over, he was the only hope for Australia and in order to go past the target, he had to play out gamely.

He decided to target that one over - which was eventually bowled by Vijay Shankar - in his mind and tried to play out as many deliveries as much he could during the hostile Shami-Bumrah tandem. While the approach may get many supporters for the fact that he did overcome their challenge and 11 runs off Vijay Shankar in the last over was not going to be a huge problem, but it might also be viewed in another way. Stoinis, by not playing those deliveries, had missed out three-four really bad balls which could have otherwise been converted to singles and doubles, especially with the third power-play on. This might come as a topic of discussion during the team meeting tomorrow.

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