I recently wrote a post here at Poshin's World on whether India should be happy that Ponting and Watson were being rested this ODI series. I wrote that India could be reasonably happy, although perhaps less so in the case of Australia's Captain. I concluded the post by saying:
So: to be or not to be happy with these changes to the Australian ODI line-up. Perhaps that's the wrong question? Perhaps with the way India looks at the moment, it does not really matter.
Well, if I do say so myself, I think that I was right.
MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to field. I know nothing about neither Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium nor Visakhapatnam other than what I gleaned from yesterday's broadcast: it looked hot and humid. Australia is known to vastly prefer to bat first so I assumed conditions both in general and on the day were amenable to chasing; not exactly born yesterday, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
I wrote last night on twitter that I thought Australia was probably some 10-15 runs short in the end (final score 289) and I wrote that solely based on the psychological barrier the number 300 seems to represent in ODIs. Well, I guess I was right-ish: seeing that India won with 7 balls to spare, I think Australia was at least 15 runs short.
Most Impressive Player: Virat Kohli, who apparently came in with some (self-) doubt having been through something of a run dry recently. 'Honestly, I was struggling to get runs [...] I had not scored in last six-seven matches. I was under pressure. I was not hitting in the gaps. It was very satisfying and it gives you a lot of confidence when you score chasing under pressure.' His 118 (at a SR of 97.52) anchored India's innings and provided a fine platform from which Raina in particular launched a brutal assault on the Australian bowling line-up (71 runs at a SR of 151.06!)
Least Impressive Player: James Hopes, whom one would assume came in as 'first all-rounder' in lieu of Shane Watson. Hopes took exactly no wickets whatsoever and bowled 7 overs at an 'economy' rate of 8.00. In general, Hopes's bowling average does not entirely shabby for an all-rounder ... until you start looking at his stats in some detail and you are bound to notice that in matches in which Hopes does not take wickets, he tends to have an unhappily high economy rate. And that matters. This ODI against England in June 2010 may serve as an example: England won by 1 wicket with 5 balls remaining; Hopes bowled 6.1 overs and went for 44 runs at an 'economy' rate of 7.13. England's RR was 4.35. Australia was all out in 46 overs; Hopes managed to score 7 at SR of 63.63 before he was bowled by Jimmy Anderson.
So, who's happy now?
Well, I think that India and the Indian Captain can be happy with this effort: there is depth among Indian cricket players and they all seem to be in fine form, bowlers and batsmen alike. Kohli, as mentioned, should be very happy. Ravichandran Ashwin, whom I had never seen before, should also be happy: not only did he get a wicket (trapping Mussey lbw with a snazzy little, rather short-ish, ball) but he was miserly with the runs as well. Yuvraj Singh is always happy, with himself at any rate.
I think Michael Clarke can be reasonably happy with his captaincy and of course, after a lean run in the two Test matches, having produced a Captain's Knock with a century. Cameron White should be happy too: batting down the order, it would appear that he might develop into a fine, Bevanesque 'closer' for Australia. Now, if people could only stop referring to White as an all-rounder worthy of place in our Test XI, then I would be happy too.