3 games was all we got, yet the cricketing gods were kind enough to provide us with some crazy hitting, masterful batting and exceptional bowling amidst a lot of anti-climax. Which means it’s post-mortem time, so here we are with our winners (not India) and losers (not Australia) from the series.
Justin Langer, Aaron Finch and Australia can deny, lie to themselves, all they want but the truth is that they NEED Maxwell. Oh how Virat Kohli and Co. must have been giggling looking at Ashton Turner’s performance in this series. I mean, the poor lad was barely able to hold his bat, let alone score runs with it. Once Australia announced their squad, India must have felt like that kid who prepared for Calculus in the Math finals and instead ended up finding basic addition in the question paper. This Aussie ODI team ain’t going anywhere without you, Maxi!!
Not Sibley, not Crawley, not Malan, not even Labuschagne, but the best debut of the season goes to none other than Virender Sharma. In an era where umpiring standards are degrading with every passing match, Sharma, on debut in Rajkot, showed the kind of composure that we’ve not even seen from the likes of Ben Stokes and Steve Smith of late. Umpires, especially young ones, being intimidated, bullied and pressurized into decisions is an unfortunate yet frequent sighting, but not Sharma - the man who won BCCI's best umpire award in the Naman Award Ceremony a week ago. With 11 passionate Indian players and 28,000 fans on his back, the umpire, on debut, stayed true to himself, shrugged off peer pressure and the temptation to rule the batsman out to deny Mohammad Shami a hat-trick. None but that, in my opinion, was the moment of the series. World cricket has a real gem in its hands.
This might just turn out to be the most important point of KL Rahul’s career. In three matches time, he’s gone from being the villain who made Virat Kohli alter his batting position to the hero, the saviour that Indian cricket so badly needs. You can almost imagine the conversation between him and Kohli, can’t you?
VK: Hey KL, Shikhar is playing, so I’m afraid you’re gonna have to sit out.
KL: No problem, skips.
VK: Hey KL, need you to bat at 3 today, can’t play you over Shikhar.
KL: No problem, skips.
VK: Hey KL, need you to be a finisher today. I’m moving back up the order.
KL: No problem, skips.
VK: And oh, by the way, you need to keep wickets too.
KL: Of course, skips.
Not only has Rahul enhanced his reputation and firmly established himself as one of the first names in the XI, but he has also earned the respect of the general public and shown the world that he IS the team man that the country so badly needs.
Remember when Shardul Thakur temporarily became the finisher for two matches and we all thought that he was going to be a mainstay in the team? Well, that didn’t last long, did it? As it turns out, he is not thaaaaat good a bowler and it took Navdeep Saini just a few overs to show Kohli that he needs to be playing ahead of the Mumbaikar. As if it wasn’t enough, Shami, too, hit god mode in the death overs to pile further misery on Shardul. Basically, thanks to the Wankhede disaster-class and the Saini-Shami masterclass, Shardul went from the third choice to the fifth choice in the span of three games. Cruel sport, this!
Is Usman Khawaja being treated harshly? Yes. Did he deserve to get dropped in the first place? No. Is he right to voice his frustration over being overlooked? Yes. Will he make a comeback to this ODI team ever again? HELL NO. Did you see what the master and his apprentice did in this series? All Australia were looking for was a reliable middle-order pairing that would ensure them consistency and solidity, and in Smith and Labuschagne, they’ve found exactly that. I’m afraid that even if one of these two gets injured, Peter Handscomb might get a look in. It must be tough being Usman Khawaja, no doubt!
Rishabh Pant’s concussion might just be the worst thing to have happened to…….Kedar Jadhav. KL Rahul taking the gloves has meant that Kohli now has the luxury of fielding an extra batsman without sacrificing one of the top three, and this, in turn, has meant that he’s chucked Jadhav completely out of the team in favour of Manish Pandey. Pandey did not do well, sure, but you know what’s the real nightmare for Jadhav? Once Hardik Pandya is back, he - and not Jadhav - will take Pandey’s place, meaning that the 34-year-old soon will be all but a forgotten man. Who knew Pant - or rather Cummins, should I say - was capable of ending two careers in one go?
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