Australia were always going to be India’s toughest opponents this home season and they showed why. The Aaron Finch-led side which came down to India for a three-match ODI series pushed the hosts to the limit. They produced some high-quality cricket and the intensity of the series was really high.
It was a very tightly contested series but India fought hard and came from 0-1 down to win the series 2-1. Australia started the series with a commanding performance at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai as they recorded a thumping 10-wicket win. However, India fought back really well. A brilliant batting performance (they scored 340) helped them level the series. In the series-decider, Virat Kohli and his men produced an all-round show which helped them earn a hard-fought series win.
With the series coming to an end, we look back at the combined XI of the ODI series that did well in this series.
1. Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma looked in great touch. 2019 was a wonderful year and he’s started 2020 on a high as well. The Indian vice-captain started the series with a boundary of the first ball and scored 171 runs in the series. He got starts in the first two games but couldn’t convert. However, he made it count in the series-decider.
The Mumbaikar scored 10 and 42 in Mumbai and Rajkot respectively. He looked fluent in both those games but threw it away. But when it mattered, he stepped up and delivered. Rohit played a match-winning knock and struck his 29th ODI ton in Bengaluru.
Chasing 287, he set the platform for the ‘Men in Blue’ to chase it down. Rohit mixed caution with aggression really well and stroked his way through 119 and was awarded the player of the match in the third ODI.
2. Aaron Finch
It was a good series for all the openers. In fact, all of them got good scores and three of them even registered one ton each. David Warner scored a dominating ton in the first game but couldn’t contribute a lot in the other two games.
Meanwhile, Shikhar Dhawan was also a competitor for this spot but Aaron Finch looked good throughout this series. The Australian skipper started off with an unbeaten 110. He shared a fantastic partnership with Warner as the duo knocked off 256 by themselves and that too with ease.
After that, Finch got a couple of good starts but failed to kick on and get a big score. He scored 33 in the second game before he was run out on 19 in the final game. Overall, Finch scored 162 runs at an average of 81.00 in the series and was Australia’s second-most run-getter.
3. Virat Kohli (C)
Another series has passed and the wait for the 44th ODI ton continues. However, Virat Kohli had an excellent series. It may not be according to the high standards he sets but it was an impactful performance. The two knocks he played in the second and third ODIs were crucial at those stages.
After a rare failure in the first game where he batted at No. 4, Kohli was back at No. 3 for the other two games and he dominated in both innings. The Indian skipper was the second-highest run-getter (183 runs) of the series. He had scores of 16, 78 and 89 respectively in the three games.
In fact, in both those fifty-plus scores, Kohli did have a chance to reach the three-figure mark but was dismissed. Moreover, Kohli has now got 100 fifty-plus scores in ODI cricket and even breached the 5000 ODI runs mark as captain and became the fastest to do so. For his knocks of 78 and 89, Kohli was rewarded with the player of the series.
4. Steve Smith
There’s always a comparison between Virat Kohli and Steve Smith. While Kohli is fabulous in white-ball cricket, Smith hasn’t been as consistent in the shorter formats as he has been in Test cricket. However, the former Australian skipper had a better series than Kohli and he outscored everybody.
Smith has started 2020 with a bang. After a rather indifferent home summer in Australia, he played a couple of excellent knocks. After not being required to bat in the first game, Smith was in his zone in the second and third games. He finished with the most runs in this three-match series.
He scored 98 in the second game and it was his wicket that turned the game. Meanwhile, while batting first, Smith struck a fine 131 as he helped Australia to get to a competitive total. The New South Wales lad made 229 runs in two innings and was the only player to breach the 200-mark in this series.
5. Marnus Labuschagne
It was barely 12 months ago Marnus Labuschagne wasn’t considered to be fit to be batting at the highest level. However, it’s been a massive turnaround for the South African-born and he’s been fabulous in the longest format. The new Australian Test No. 3 made his ODI debut in this series and didn’t bat in the first game.
He played a couple of very good knocks in the last couple of ODIs. Labuschagne looked fluent and comfortable at the crease and scored 46 and 54. He batted at No. 4 and stitched a couple of excellent partnerships with his idol, Steve Smith.
He was good against both spin and pace. While he played the fast bowlers with ease, he countered the spinners well too. The right-hander employed the sweep well and used his feet nicely too. Labuschagne seems to have cemented his spot in the ODI side as well.
6. KL Rahul (WK)
One game at 3, one more at 5 and another one at the top of the order. KL Rahul’s batting position was juggled every game but he was up for the challenge. He was at No. 3 in the first game with Kohli moving down to 4 and he made 47.
But his best knock came batting at 5. He walked in the 33rd over with a good platform set. It was important for him to rotate the strike and keep the scoreboard ticking which he did initially. But once he found his touch, Rahul took the attack to the Aussies. The Karnataka lad smoked a fabulous 52-ball 80 which included six fours and three sixes helping India get to 340.
He scored 19 in the final ODI as he opened the batting with Shikhar Dhawan out injured. While the juggle between his batting positions was on, he had one constant position on the field. In the absence of Pant, Rahul was very good behind the stumps. There was barely anything that went past him and moreover, he was good with DRS calls as well.
7. Ravindra Jadeja
While there were the likes of Kohli, Rohit and Dhawan making headlines with the bat, Ravindra Jadeja quietly gave consistent performances. If you look at the numbers, 45 runs from two innings and four wickets don’t seem outstanding but the way he bowled in the last two games was crucial.
In the first game, he made 35 off 32 balls before scoring 20 off 16 in the second as he played a great supporting role to KL Rahul. With the ball, he gave India important breakthroughs with wickets of Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne. In the third ODI, he took two wickets in an over to shift the momentum in India’s favor and he finished his 10 overs on the trot, returning with 2/44.
And as usual, Jadeja was superb in the field and produced a couple of chances as well. Hence, it was a good series for Jadeja. There were no big contributions but he played a vital part.
8. Pat Cummins
The Australian fast bowlers were largely inconsistent throughout the series. They were excellent in the first game and blew hot and cold in the other two. Pat Cummins was really good in Mumbai and he cranked up the pace and troubled the Indian openers. He was later rewarded with a couple of important wickets.
The ace Aussie fast bowler got rid of a well-set Shikhar Dhawan before coming back to cut short Rishabh Pant’s charge. Cummins finished his spell with figures of 2/44 from his 10 overs. In the second ODI, he bowled well upfront and it was only at the death that he leaked a few. He bowled well and was unlucky not to get a wicket.
However, Cummins was way off the mark in the last game as he conceded 64 runs from his seven overs. With Starc being inconsistent as well, Cummins gets the nod due to his consistency in the first couple of games.
9. Mohammed Shami
Over the last year or so, Mohammed Shami has become a strike bowler for India in ODI cricket. He finished 2019 as the leading wicket-taker in the 50-over format and has started 2020 well too. After a poor first game, Shami came back strongly and picked up three and four wickets respectively in the next couple of games.
In fact, it was Shami who got the first breakthrough for India in both the games and he got David Warner got both times. Warner (twice) was his only scalp in the powerplay and he came back in the latter half to make an impact. Shami’s consistency at the death has improved and it showed in this series.
The Bengal pacer consistently hit the yorker and was too hot to handle at times. He finished with seven wickets, most by any bowler in the series. He was expensive as he had an economy of 7.15 but he consistently picked wickets.
10. Adam Zampa
One of the best subplots of this series was the Adam Zampa vs Virat Kohli battle. The Australian leg-spinner had the Indian skipper’s number before this series and continues to have an edge over him. Zampa had Kohli caught and bowled in the first game for just 16 before the Indian captain played him out well in the second game. However, Kohli fell to Zampa in his final over. But the leggie couldn’t dismiss the Indian captain in the third game.
However, he bowled really well. In fact, Zampa dismissed Rohit Sharma twice as well. In all the three games, he wasn’t afraid of getting hit and kept tossing the ball up and didn’t waver from his plans.
He was a big threat and hence, the Indian batsmen played him out in the third ODI. Zampa was Australia’s best bowler as he took five wickets in the series. Moreover, his economy of 4.90 is the second-best across both teams in this series.
11. Navdeep Saini
This might be a surprising name in this XI. However, Navdeep Saini came into the XI and did well. There’s no doubt that he’s been on the expensive side but he created a good impact.
After Shardul Thakur’s listless performance in the first ODI, Saini slotted in as the third seamer. While Saini blew hot and cold slightly at different stages of the game, he was very good at the death. He nailed the yorker really well and was consistent with it as well.
He returned with figures of 2/62 and 1/65 in the two games he played. The Delhi fast bowler’s consistency at the death in flat batting conditions was one of the pluses for India.
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