The 2016 Indian tour to Australia featured 5 ODI and 3 T20 matches. India lost the 1st 4 ODI in a row before India got a consolation win in the 5th Match. India however won the T20 series 3 Nil. In India’s 1st 4 ODI losses the talking points were India’s ineffective bowling, Skipper MS Dhoni’s ineffective batting and even more uninspiring captaincy. Luckily India prevented a whitewash by winning the 5th ODI. They went on to win the T20 series 3 nil and in the process becoming the top T20 team in the world.
Let us take a look at the overall tour and whether it was overall a gain or a loss
There is no doubt that it was a big success overall. India’s successive scores in the 5 ODI’s were 309, 308, 295, 323 and 331. However they still lost the 1st 3 matches despite setting record targets for Australia in 3 different venues at Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne. The 4th match was at Canberra and India scored 323 while the 5th match was at Sydney where India by scoring 331 finally won a match. 323 and 331 were India’s highest ever scores at Canberra and Sydney respectively too. So isn’t it incredible that in 5 consecutive matches India registered their highest ever scores at 5 different venues. Even if it can be theorized and said that ODI pitches are the same nowadays in every place it was definitely an awesome performance.
The individual batting positives for India were Rohit, Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, even Shikhar Dhawan ( later in the series) and Manish Pandey. Rohit and Virat especially were outstanding as regards their considtency . Rohit had scores of 171 , 154, 41 and 99 while Virat had 91, 59, 117 and 106 in 4 of their 5 knocks. Rahane had 2 important scores of 89 and 50 while Dhawan’s significant knocks were 126 and 78. His 68 i am discounting as it was off 91 balls which contributed in India being 30 runs short. Pandey scored a matchwinning 104 not out in the last match. Its incredible that Wasim Akram said on live commentary that after Virat scored 91 in the 1st match, he told him that he missed a hundred and the reply of Virat was “ Wasim Bhai, i will have 2 hundreds before the series is over” and he indeed walked the talk and did it. It can therefore be seen that the entire top order for India performed for all the 5 matches.
Manish Pandey deserves a special mention for doing well in a match where Virat failed and Dhoni was clearly struggling. He not only did well but remained till the end and scored winning runs against a huge Australian total of 330. Well done Young Man, and keep it up
In the 1st 4 matches after the top order did remarkably well, the rest of the batting fell away and for all the 4 matches India finished 30 short. This is excusable for a match or two but not 4 in a row. Ashwin later said that India miscalculated the Par score and did not aim for more than what it had as in world cup in Australia less than a year back teams were winning after setting a target of 300. This however is not enough of an excuse and deep thought is required. Did we drop Raina a series too early ?
Dhoni was a big disappointment as regards batting His scores if one sees were 18 in 18, 11 in 10, 23 in 9, 0 and 34 in 42 balls. However one has to realise that time and tide wait for none. What he was doing effortlessly the last several years suddenly became so difficult for him. Especially in the last ODI when he came in India needed around 100 in 90 balls and suddenly it was 40 in 24. Luckily we won in the end but the doubt remains as regards his batting.
Bowling/ODI/Positives. The only positive seems to be Jaspreet Bumraah who with his unusual action impressed with his change in pace and attitude. I hope he continues like this and no cricketing Pundit asks him to change his action to lengthen his career.
Bowling/ODI/Negatives. There are many. In 3 venues, despite weak death over batting India set up record targets at 3 different venues but could not defend. In the 4th and 5th ODI too Australia scored 348 and 330 type. We need to ask ourself many questions. Including can any Captain do well with such bowling ?
Captaincy- Positives. Not much to think about, even with a long hard look. Probably the silver lining is that Dhoni and Kohli seem to have excellent camaraderie which is good for the team
Captaincy- Negatives. Many negative points come to mind. Was it required to state that we have no quick bowling allrounder when rishi Dhawan was in the playing 11. And then play him in next match. Was it required to play 2 spinners in Australia. And if so, was it required to drop Ashwin who is supposed to be our no.1 bowler. Was it correct to drop Manish Pandey after he had played only 2 matches and did not bat in 1. After all, if Rahane had not been injured Manish Panday would not have even got a chance to play in the 5th match at all.
T20 Series/Batting/Positives Well, the Indian team batted splendidly in all the 3 matches , outbatting Australia in the 1st 2 and in the 3rd rattling up 200 in a spirited chase, with a last ball finish. Kohli batted supremely in all the 3 matches and as Sunny Gavaskar says he is in such form that he can bat at night without floodlights
Bowling/Negatives. Not many really. Yes in both the 1st 2 matches the Aussies went off to a great start and then lost their way after the spinners came in. In the 3rd too there was nothing much wrong with the bowling. If a special batsman like Shane Watson scores 126 most teams will concede 197. However will Hardik Pandya provide the needed balance to the team. Not too impressive, time will tell.
Bowling/Positives The bowlers did not give up in the 1st 2 matches after the Australians went hard at us in the 1st 10 overs. That was commendable. Bumraah impressed in this form as well. So did Jadeja and Yuvraj.
Captaincy. Overall, fine , no issues.
Is it a 4-4 series. No, it is 1-4 for ODI series and 3-0 for T20 series. Still it was refreshing and positive of Virat Kohli to say after the 4 th ODI was lost in a row that its time to think of it as a 8 match series and that they will try to win the next 4.
Conclusion. Maybe we need to think of a new ODI captain in Kohli. That may allow Dhoni to play freely and we may get the best out of him as a batsman wicketkeeper once the stress and strain of captaincy is away from him. Will he play under Kohli ? Well, he should. Anyways, he is one of the top 5 ODI greats of all time, and i would like to see him play for some more time as a player only.
Overall this is a satisfying tour for us. India has established itself as a batting superpower in ODI and T20 at least. Winning the T20 series 3 Nil is important as it will help us for the T20 World Cup. Ending the tour on a positive note by winning is in itself satisfying.
Looking forward to the nest series which will be covered in detail as well. Thanks