The second T20 game, where the Australians experimented a bit with the side, provided the Indians a much-needed respite on this tour but, unfortunately, it didn't help them in the first ODI of the tri-series. I am truly baffled by India's tactics. Winning the toss and bowling first is not what
you do time and again in Australia. I understand there was rain around the corner but in Australia, it's always easy to bat first and put runs on the board under the sun and to bowl second as there is a bit more for the bowler. It seams around and bounces around a bit more.
Australia's Clint McKay, center, celebrates the wicket of India's Rohit Sharma, with Ricky Ponting, left, and Ryan Harris, right, during their one day international match at the MCG in Melbourne, Australia.(AP Photo/Mal Fairclough)
Also, in these conditions you don't select a team that you would regularly play in the subcontinent. Two medium pacers and three regular spinners aren't going to win you matches here. In the middle and closure of the innings, when the Australians had stepped up a gear, I am sure MS Dhoni must have felt handicapped with his bowling options. Praveen Kumar and Vinay Kumar had almost finished their quota before the rain interruption.
When Michael Clarke went for the toss, he must have been a happy man knowing that Virender Sehwag was 'rested'. When we talk about this format of cricket, his last innings was the double hundred. Though it was some time back and his current form has been ordinary, but a fit Sehwag has to be playing. What does the team management mean by 'resting' him in the first game of a tri-series? It isn't that he has scored plenty prior to this game to deserve a 'rest'. That's why I say that the tactics and the planning by the Indians throughout this tour have been ridiculous.
Also, the opening fixture was not the first time that Gautam Gambhir pushed away from the body and got dismissed. In the last game he got the runs but even then he was looking more to play behind the wickets. His technique has been found wanting and surprisingly he doesn't seem to learn from his mistakes. Whenever the ball has bounced and seamed more, he has looked vulnerable.
At the position when the game was restarted, India looked to be the favourites to win, but once again their bowling options made the difference. Matthew Wade played a mature knock and this time we got to see the other side of his batting which was more consolidating with the right mix of aggression. The Hussey brothers then joined in. David Hussey is very dangerous against spinners and medium pacers so India's bowling suited his game perfectly.
At another time, the problems back home could have been an excuse but India's inability to enforce a challenge has been the order of this tour. In the clash of two struggling sides, India play their next game against Sri Lanka at Perth and if senses prevail they will at least play more fast bowlers and hopefully not rest Sehwag.
(The writer is a former Australia Opener)