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Ind Vs Aus At MCG India Hope For Game Set And Match

 

Ind Vs Aus At MCG India Hope For Game Set And Match

 

Quirky Melbourne weather was at it again on Thursday. The morning dawned with a heavy shower, a chill breeze swept through the afternoon and the evening was lit up by bright sunshine. The weather has been as unexpected as Indian team’s performance in the last three weeks. Much was expected of them when they landed in Australia but despite some big scores from their batsmen they lost the ODI series 1-4.
 
The batsmen posted scores over 300 but perhaps they could have pushed on to set daunting targets. Without the cushion of tall scores, the Indian bowlers fell flat in the first three ODIs. R Ashwin put the initial failures down to “not calculating the par score properly… the par scores were somewhere in the 330s”.
 
Just before the final ODI, the Indians tried to infuse life in the dead rubber by saying that they are looking at the tour as eight-game series (5 ODIs and 3 T20’s). They won that final one-dayer and won the first T20, and by India’s new reading of the tour, the scoreline reads 3-4. And for the first time on this tour, they are actually in the driver’s seat, with the momentum with them.
 
The influx of young and old players has transformed the team, especially the arrival of experienced players. Even the Australian opener David Warner has talked about the importance of senior players in T20 format and how the experience is the key to clinch games.
 
Nehra, the mentor
 
At the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a sporting arena seeped in history, India’s most experienced seamer Ashish Nehra was again seen helping out Umesh Yadav. The senior pro was almost counselling the youngster who has had a miserable tour. Another youngster Hardik Pandya was seen closeted with Bharat Arun, the bowling coach. At a distance, a few girls stood, cheering every Indian player and requesting them for photos and autographs. Win or lose, the Indian cricketers are popular tourists everywhere these days but the recent wins have certainly helped their mood, and their popularity for that matter.
 
The one big change to the team has been the arrival of the new bowlers presenting more options to the captain.
 
Ashish Nehra has sparkled with his nagging accuracy and experience in handling pressure situations, Jasprit Bhumrah has impressed with his yorker-bowling skills and Pandya too has bowled with a plan. Together, they have allowed MS Dhoni some breathing space and also, provided the spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin some elbow room to do their thing. The spinners are no longer under pressure of not only taking wickets but also containing the runs, and they have also come along nicely.
 
However, Ashwin, who was dropped after the first ODI where he leaked 68 runs in 9 overs and had to wait out for four ODIs before he returned for the T20 game, doesn’t think that it’s the bowlers alone who have engineered a turnaround. Instead, he points out the other crucial factor behind the change in fortunes. The assessment of what constitutes a par-score by the batsmen has changed and the adjustment they have made to reach daunting totals.
 
It’s a fair point but in the last two ODIs, it was the big target set by Australians that forced the Indian batsmen to hunt it down. It was the fact that they were chasing tall scores – after the Australian batsmen showed them how to set tough targets – that helped them find the extra gear. Even if they lost the fourth ODI, they had gained in confidence which flowed through in the next two games.
 
Miscalculated par score
 
This was Ashwin’s take on the change in the momentum in the last two games. “I don’t think we have done anything drastically different. It’s just the fact that we probably haven’t assessed the par scores well enough. In the past, 300 – or even 260 – has been a winning score when we came in 2011-12 for an ODI series here. I think it’s just a mindset of having that while coming into the series, and trying to post a score rather than trying to overachieve and falling short of it. That was the kind of intent when we came in here. I thought we did pretty well to post 310-320, I just think the par scores were somewhere in the 330s. And as you saw in the last games, in Canberra and Sydney, I think we would have achieved 350s. And the wickets have obviously gone flatter. Even when South Africa came here last time, I think they achieved 310s and 320s pretty easily. So it was just a question of not calculating the par score properly.”
 
The real buzz on Thursday evening, even at MCG, wasn’t cricket though. It was the action happening at the near-by arena. All the focus was on the game between Roger Federer vs Novak Djokovic. There was a scramble for tickets among the Indian cricket players but only Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh managed to make it to the venue. As soon as he arrived in Melbourne, Kohli had asked the local boy Shikar Dhawan, who lives here along with his wife, to arrange some passes. Dhawan couldn’t help him out but Kohli managed to lay his hands on the pass.

 

Meanwhile, Australians have decided to rest David Warner and Steve Smith for the second T20, ahead of their tour to New Zealand. Indians can’t relax all that much as Glenn Maxwell returns after proving his fitness. For the first time on the tour, Indians won’t sweat about their playing combination and are likely to retain the same team that won them the first T20. Tennis, rain, sun, cricket … just another day in Melbourne.
 
 
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