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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Australia Tour Tri-series - India lose to Australia in first match

The Indian team started their ODI series with a clear intention to finalize few remaining strategies for the forthcoming World Cup. Firstly, they wanted to figure out the key team member's form on Australian pitches and see how they would fare against the fearful Australian bowlers. Secondly, the team management wanted to check how the strategy of batting first (on winning the toss) would pan out. The think-tank would have also wanted to see how the fielding positions have to be planned out on large grounds with their bowling attack. Finally, they also wanted to see which combination would be the most ideal for the World Cup in different situations (opening, middle overs, death overs).

Hence, Dhoni elected to bat after winning the toss. Dhawan did not make use of the opportunity to open with Rohit by slashing at a wide ball from Starc within the first over. Rahane was sent in at No.3 giving him a similar feel of opening the batting. Rohit was going strong at one end despite not getting the strike as much as he would have liked to. Rahane got going with some good shots on both sides but got a bit too aggressive for his own liking. Kohli is not as effective batting first as he is when chasing a target -  today was no different.

Thanks to  Cricinfo for  this image
Kohli's wicket set the scenario for Rohit and Raina to set a partnership. Both did motor along nicely upping the scoring rate and preventing any further wicket loss. Till the batting PowerPlay when Raina holed out to  mid-on - the Indian team should plan well for this phase when they should bat normally and avoid any loss of wickets. Dhoni had to drop anchor because of Rohit's century first and then ensuring the loss of further wickets. But, he fell against the run of play followed by quick wickets at other end. All this led to a total that was probably 25-30 runs behind what was required. MSD has summed up his issue at the batting dead-end very nicely in his interview.

The Australian innings started off with both openers putting up a fifty stand before Yadav stuck. But, continuous partnerships for the second and third wickets meant that the asking rate was never a problem. India grabbed four quick wickets for 32 runs but it was too little too late. The bowlers were inconsistent but what was promising was the last 15 overs when the Indians defended with new resolve. Dhoni's message to the team during the last drinks break looked to have worked - the bowlers found the yorker-length while the fielders dived and caught everything. If only this was done earlier in the innings, the Indians might have been still able to squeak home.

All in all, a good start that could have been much better. Due to the absence of a tour game (removed because of Phil Hughes), the Indian team had to use this as a warm-up match. The next match should see the Indians stepping up a gear against the English team. The bowlers should be able to find the lengths that work in the  opening spell - Shami's injury concern might hamper the team.
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