New Delhi, Jan 22: A badly bruised and battered Team India will be making a last-gasp effort on Saturday (Jan 23) to avoid the humiliation of a white wash against Australia in the fifth and final ODI game at Sydney.
The Indians came a cropper while defending three back-to-back 300-plus totals and in the fourth match in Canberra, they bungled inexplicably from a position of strength to fail in chasing as well.
Looking at the performance put up by the visitors, the bowlers certainly deserve a lot of criticism for their ordinary bowling for they hardly posed any challenge to the Australian batters. But, looking at the pitch and the kind of beating the hosts received from the Indian top order batsmen one feels it was Indian batters who eventually failed to do their job.
Thus blaming 'poor' bowling for the series loss is not justified for the bowlers didn't get the much needed support from the pitch. If one goes by skipper MS Dhoni's statement in the first 3 games, then the team was, on every ocassion, short of at least 25-30 runs, batting first and in the fourth ODI the lower middle order just failed to capitalise over the gain provided by the top order.
300 is the new 250 in ODIs:
Looking at the kind of pitches prepared these days, it becomes clear that 300 is the new 250 in the ODIs. Any team batting first is bound to score something beyond 320-350 to win the game. Hence, Indian batters failed to put up enough runs on the scoreboard despite getting good starts from the top order. It was the lower middle order that failed to score runs in between 41 and 50 overs.
The continuous failure of the lower middle order has become a matter of concern for Team India for the team lacked an 'experienced' batsman who could turn the tides for the side in tight situation and score runs in the death overs. The youngsters, who were given preference over senior players, failed to rise to the ocassion.
Youngsters failed to perform:
Yougnsters Gurkeerat Singh, Rishi Dhawan and Mayank Pandey had their chances of leaving an impression and cementing a position in the team, but none of them succeeded in encashing the opportunities.
Failure of young guns in the side will once again force the selectors to shift their focus back over senior and experienced players who are making right noises in the domestic circuit.
Looking at the performance of the youngsters in the middle order, a thought crosses the mind: things would have been better had Yuvraj Singh been a part of the ODI squad.
At least Yuvraj's presence in the squad would have reduced skipper Dhoni's middle order woes for the flamboyant left-handed batter could have given the much needed strength lower down the order and amassed those 'extra' 25-30 runs that the side was felling short of.
Even in the 4th ODI the likes of Ravindra Jadeja, Gurkeerat Singh, Rishi Dhawan succumbed to pressure but presence of a match finisher like Yuvraj Singh would have given the much needed strength to the Indian batting line-up.
Yuvraj's impressive record against the Australians makes him the perfect choice for any ODI squad but the Punjab batter was ignored by the selectors.
Yuvraj: Australia's nemesis since 2000
The Punjab left-hander, who debuted against the Aussies 15-years-back, owns a reputation of Australia's nemesis since 2000.
He has scored 981 runs, including two centuries and four fifties against Australia at a strike-rate of 85 and an average close to 30 in the ODIs.
However, in the Twenty20 format this destructive player has decimated the Australian bowling. In 6 games played against the Aussies, Yuvraj has blasted 244 runs at a whopping average of 61.75 and a strike-rate of 170. His innings of 70 runs in just 30 deliveries against Australia in 2007 World T20 semi finals is one of the most remembered knocks.
Owing to his destructive record against the Australians, Yuvraj has been granted a place in India's T20 squad, but he certainly deserved a place in 50-over format as well.
Yuvraj's performance overseas as well as on neutral venues has always been good and his contribution with the bat at no. 4, 5 & 6 has been exceptional. Most of his runs have come in at batting fourth, fifth or sixth. 12 of the 13 centuries he has hit have come in at no. 4 and 5. Thus making him a perfect choice for any skipper.
This prolific left-handed batter has been a match winner for Team India since his debut game and there's still a lot of game left in him. Its time, this champion batsman is given his much deserved place in the ODI squad for he is not only a furious batsman but also an exceptional fielder and a utility spin bowler whom skipper can bank to break the partnerships.