Zaheer Khan believes that it was vitally important for India to notch up a win in the third ODI, to get on the board, and feels that the victory might now set the tone for the rest of the tour. Zaheer noted that in the third ODI, India displayed a fighting spirit that was lacking in the first two.
After being reduced to 152/5 inside 32 overs, India were starring at a third straight defeat Down Under but an unbeaten 150-run stand between Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja galvanized the visitors, who scampered their way to a score of 302. From thereon, there was no looking back for the Men in Blue, who with the help of fresh faces in the bowling attack, restricted Australia to 289 to register a 13-run victory.
India got off the mark in the two-month long tour with Wednesday’s win and according to former pacer Zaheer Khan, the triumph in the third ODI could prove to be key. Reviewing the game on Cricbuzz LIVE, Zaheer claimed that a win in the third ODI was non-negotiable, and claimed that the positive result could help India set the tone for the rest of the tour.
“For India to get back, they needed to fight, and fight hard. And I think that’s what they realized. Even though the ODI series was done and dusted, it was important for them to stay in the fight and make sure they ‘wanted’ to win. It wasn’t easy for them to win the third ODI, but things started to fall in place as they became ready to fight. And that is going to set the tone for the rest of the series. It is very important for them to build the momentum and carry it forward,” Zaheer said on Cricbuzz LIVE.
India’s victory was enabled by the fact that they were able to see the back of their nemesis Steve Smith after just 15 balls. As admitted by Shardul Thakur post the match, the Indians got lucky, as Smith tickled a rank leg-side delivery to the keeper, but Michael Vaughan is of the opinion that bowling rubbish to Smith could in fact be a viable tactic. Pointing out Smith’s tendency to shuffle drastically, Vaughan claimed that the Indians, come the Test matches, could ‘try’ bowling a few deliberate rubbish balls down the leg side to see if Smith nicks it, given he has a weird track record of doing so.
“If I were India, I wouldn’t be afraid to bowl around that channel sometimes to Smith - certainly short and around hip height. Neil Wagner had a lot of success against him by bowling the short ball directed at the hips,” Vaughan said in the same show.
“It’s not a dismissal that’s conventional, but for someone like Steve Smith who gets so far across the off-side and tries to hit the ball on the leg-side, it might not be a bad idea to bowl a few down the leg side in the hope of getting a feather. Maybe India could use it as a tactic in the Test series.”