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Stuck At The Crossroads – India down under


India lost its third consecutive match in the ongoing bilateral series against Australia. This isn’t heartbreaking, yet the Indian fans can feel disappointed for the consistent inability to defend totals that are close to 300. And no, it is not just the bowling which has let India down.

A close observation points to the batsmen scoring 30-40 runs short in each of the three matches. And in limited overs, every twenty runs in excess of 300 makes the chasing team take more risks than they would normally. And the high scores of 330 or more is what has been missing to this Indian bowling attack, which looks out of sorts for most parts of the game. They started off poorly at Perth, showed a bit more control in Brisbane and took more wickets here in Melbourne – and still it seemed Australians had time and overs to complete the win. If India are to win the next two matches and take some pride out of the series, the onus lies on the batsmen. However, batsmen too have their own concerns.

Historically and in recent times, a closer look at the teams that has posted big totals at the helm of the innings and dominated the games have either a strong batting line-up or a formidable bowling attack. India finds itself in a peculiar position wherein they do not quite fill both the criteria. Batsmen keeping in mind, M.S Dhoni who comes in at number six is the last of the recognised batter Indian team possess doesn’t help the cause. India have taken the cautious route on all three occasions owing to opening partnerships, that has not been on an average under six overs. Virat Kohli has been early at the wicket on all the three occasions and attack took a backseat as a result of it.

There is a strategy at the way a team approaches a ODI game. Most times, you have seen Australia, West Indies (era of Richards), South Africa and even India on many occasions setting the targets ruthlessly, knowing a stumble here and there won’t dent their progress. Either, the batsmen below would fill the shoes or the bowlers would finish the job with whatever total their batsmen have given to them.

In the case of India in this series, defending totals starts with the way they approach to set the targets. Lack of depth in the batting and a weak bowling line-up has held back the set batsmen to delay acceleration in scoring. As a result, the final overs have been a lottery and on an average Indian team has posted totals 30-40 runs short.
India might win one of the two matches or even both of them – however, percentages point, the current composition of the Indian team isn’t the template for winning matches. Australian team knows, field first as they back themselves to chase any target. For Indians, batting first is a good approach but should strive harder to score those 30-40 extra runs. Now, the series is lost and if the Indian team wins the toss, they might look to change the pattern and opt to chase. Will the bowlers hold up to give India a realistic target to chase? Looking at the way bowlers have bowled, it would be a surprise if India checks Australia under 300.

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