Indian skipper Virat Kohli, on the back of his side’s 66-run loss in the first ODI, rued the lack of bowling depth in the side and admitted that India would need to find a way to squeeze in overs from batsmen who can roll their arm over. The five-bowler strategy came back to haunt India in Sydney.
Playing an in-form Australia in Sydney can be daunting and the Virat Kohli-led Indian side realized the same on Friday, as they were batted out of the game in the very first innings by a rampant Aussie side. After winning the toss and batting first, Finch and Warner put together 156 runs for the first wicket, and Steve Smith, who scored a remarkable 66-ball 105, piled misery on the Indians to propel the hosts to 374.
A large reason for Australia capitalizing with the bat was the absence of a 6th bowler in the Indian side as the trio of Bumrah, Saini, and Chahal having off-days meant that the visitors had nowhere to go. Pandya not being cleared to bowl made thing worse for the Men in Blue, who only deployed five bowlers on the day, in comparison to Australia’s seven.
Speaking post-match, skipper Kohli rued the lack of options but admitted that he needed to find a way to get overs out of his batsmen.
“We'll have to find out ways of getting a few overs from a few part-timers in the side,” Kohli said in the post-match presentation.
“Unfortunately Hardik is not ready to bowl yet so we have to accept that and work around it. That is an area we have looked at, which is a very big part of any team balance. Stoinis and Glenn (Maxwell) do it for Australia.”
Barring the off-day with the ball, India also had an off-day on the field as they spilled a plethora of catches, most notably the one of Steve Smith, which eventually came back to bite them. A miffed Kohli attested that there were no excuses for underperforming on the field and stated that his side dropped the intensity post the halfway mark of the Aussies’ innings.
“We got enough time to prepare, I don't think there's any excuses on the field when you don't pull up as a side. Probably the first long game we've played in a while, we've been playing T20 cricket. But having said that, we've all played a lot of ODI cricket. The body language after 25-26 overs was disappointing. A quality side will hurt you (if you have fielding lapses).”
Despite chasing 375, India managed to keep themselves in the game for a large part, and that was down to the aggressive approach of all batsmen, not least the duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya. Eventually, they fell short by 66 runs but showed plenty of promise and potential despite suffering a mini-collapse post the 10th over. Kohli noted that India needed one top-order batter to get a big ton, but sounded delighted with the intent showed by his batsmen.
“From the batting point of view, we had a chat briefly after the game - all of us committed to playing positively and that's why you saw everyone go out there and play with intent. We just need to have a big innings from the top three, 130 or 140, which didn't happen unfortunately. Hardik's innings was an example of that (intent).
“At no stage did we think we might not get there. We committed to playing positive cricket and we are going to do that going forward as well. When teams put up large totals, you have to have a plan.”
The two sides will take to SCG once again on November 29 for the second of the three ODIs.