Australia started their home summer in a huge manner, thrashing India by 66 runs after posting a massive 374 runs on the board. You could really sense the progression from the simple margin but the parallel path charted by Aaron Finch and Steve Smith pushed the Aussies to success.
Aaron Finch typifies the importance of patience
David Warner is a phenomenon on a cricket field and whoever bats with him needs to be significantly attractive to steal the show. Aaron Finch is a simple cricketer at heart - effective, outrageous, and brilliant - but prone to myopic weaknesses as many modern-day power-hitters are. However, what Finch showcased in Sydney today laid bare the importance of staying patient in a 50-over bout. Despite having an active problem against balls staying within the three stumps, Finch decided not to be bogged down by that and shuffled across to work on both sides of the wicket. Mohammed Shami landed all but three balls in his first spell within the close range, trying to push Finch out of his comfort zone with the ball nipping back into him, but none of that helped.
It was not the end of the story though. The Victorian has a history against leg-spinners and especially googly. Cricmetric suggests that Finch averaged only 25 against googlies ahead of this encounter, but even when his RCB mate Yuzvendra Chahal tried to attack him with that, he was not fazed at all. Used his feet and stepped down the track far too often to counter the googlies that paid rich dividends. The presence of a left-hander at the other end and the absence of an off-break bowler in the Indian line-up played its part to perfection as Finch scored his 17th ODI ton, fourth against India, to guide the hosts to a humongous 374. If Finch loses his form ever again in his career, this innings will possibly act as a case study of how to stop the rut.
Indian fielding standard falls from a cliff
The Indian Premier League saw some breath-taking catches and some terrible misses in the two-month course of the tournament but the misses were attributed to the lockdown lethargy. India were supposed to put on a better show in Australia where a simple mistake can come back to bite them hard. Yet what we saw during the first ODI was enough to put you off and alert R Sridhar as the caravan moved forward.
Shikhar Dhawan was cut slack for not being able to hold on to a Finch catch, running behind from cover, but the drop at the long-on boundary was an utter mess. His judgment was dumb-founded, allowing Smith to construct a flawless innings. When Glenn Maxwell came out to bat, India should’ve been prompt enough to restrict the run-flow but Hardik Pandya and Navdeep Saini parried two catches to the fence. This time it was their positioning that became the talking point, especially Pandya, who looked way too unconvincing in his approach. If this continues further, India will be in for a long tour.
India’s rigid approach leaves a huge gaping hole
The reason India tends to win more unexpected matches under MS Dhoni was that India had options galore as well as a back-up plan if anything goes awry. Virat Kohli has a brilliant team at his disposal, majorly because of the huge talent pool available in the country, but his excessive rigidity while picking the playing XI ensured a game couldn’t be recovered once the top order is back in the hut. It is never an ideal position to be. India found them in such a position twice in the same game.
First, while fielding, India had only five options at their disposal, including Ravindra Jadeja, who had a terrible IPL with the ball. And on a day every single bowler went for runs, India could never get rid of their set template which allowed the Aussie batters to smash their way to a gigantic total. Hardik Pandya has always been that person whose bowling gives a solid dimension to Indian batting but now that he is not bowling, it has disturbed heavily. With the bat too, India were done with Jadeja, a thing that haunts in a big chase as it did today. Something has to give in, with Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli having a lot of catching up to do if they don’t want lightning to not strike twice.