Indian cricket players pose with the Trophy in Melbourne. (Source: AP)
India’s number 4 conundrum: “The number four position has been an area which we want solidified but because of the combinations sometimes we have to make changes,” said Virat Kohli in his media interaction after the third ODI. In that match, MS Dhoni played the perfect number 4 and saw India all the way through. Vice-captain Rohit Sharma had said that he would like to see Dhoni bat in that position but Kohli believes Dhoni is best suited for number five. Ambati Rayudu, who got the backing from the captain after his performance against West Indies as the ideal number four, had a forgettable series in Australia but, it seems the team management will be sticking with him in the New Zealand series at least.
MS Dhoni: The 37-year-old came into the series with question marks hanging all over him. He may have scored 51 in the first ODI but what was spoken about more was the 96 balls he consumed while doing so in a match in which India eventually fell short of the target by 34 runs. He never changed his batting style in the second and third ODIs but managed to stay put until the final five overs of the chase. Thereafter, he showed that at that stage of a match, his age is just a number as he went about dismantling the Australian bowling attack with a rather calculated assault. He scored half-centuries in all matches of the series and ended as India’s highest scorer. Dhoni said after the third ODI that he has no problems batting in any position that the team requires him to.
Ravindra Jadeja’s place: His stellar performance in the Test series made it quite obvious that Jadeja would be given a run in the ODIs. What he brings to the team is a spinner who would probably waltz his way into most teams across the world regardless of the format, a gun fielder and a very useful lower order batsman, particularly in the limited overs due to his tendency for the big shots. And yet, it is hard to see him being selected ahead of Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal in conditions that are suiting spinners. He wasn’t a standout performer in this ODI series, unlike his exploits with both bat and ball in the Tests. “Big supporter of Jadeja as a Test spinner but cringe every time he plays ahead of Chahal and Kuldeep in white ball cricket,” Sanjay Manjrekar had tweeted during the Australian innings when Chahal was on the way to matching the record for best bowling figures by an Indian in ODIs Down Under in his very first match on tour.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar: Signs of rust were there but only in the first ODI as Bhuvneshwar Kumar resumed duties as India’s strike bowler. He took his 100th ODI wicket in the form Aaron Finch, who was denied from scoring more than 15 runs by Bhuvneshwar for the remainder of the series. He got four wickets in the second match and two more in the third while stifling Australia for runs throughout his spell. With eight scalps to his name, he was the highest wicket-taker in the series. Teams who India will be facing in the World Cup will be rather worried about the prospect of Bhuvneshwar and Jasprit Bumrah hunting in pairs.
Australia’s barren top order: Losing a Test series and a bilateral ODI series for the first time ever to an Indian team is not a great way to warm-up for the World Cup. Australia’s middle order batsmen were impressive in the series, consistently putting together partnerships but their efforts were made to look inadequate by a misfiring top three. Aaron Finch, Alex Carey and Usman Khawaja scored a combined 187 across three ODI’s out of which 114 was scored Khawaja alone.