India-Aus 3rd ODI: Lots at stake, loss at MCG could be damaging

  • Sanjjeev K Samyal, Hindustan Times, Melbourne
  • Updated: Jan 17, 2016 01:36 IST
Australia's Steve Smith (R) hits a six as India's wicketkeeper MS Dhoni looks on during the One Day International cricket match in Perth January 12, 2016. The 3rd ODI will be played at Melbourne on January 17, 2016. (REUTERS)

The 1pm Qantas flight from Brisbane to Melbourne had limited seats in the business class. Usually, senior players occupy the few available there while the rest of the squad sits at the rear, in the economy class.

On Saturday, only one member of the side sat the business class, along with the Team Director and manager, while captain MS Dhoni was occupying the rear with the rest of the squad.

Rookie Barinder Sran was given the special privilege. Whether by design or luck, the entitlement did send across a symbolic message. The young pacer has shown fighting spirit and he is being seen as one setting the example. It’s not about the number of wickets or runs, but going out there and giving it your all.

At the Gabba, Sran did that not only while bowling, but also during fielding.

While the casual approach of some of the members was painful to watch, Sran’s attitude was refreshing as he chased the ball like his life depended on it.

Ishant Sharma dropped a dolly offered by Shaun Marsh, but when the Australian opener hit one in the air towards Sran on the boundary line, he sprinted to his left and flung himself at it. The chance couldn’t be taken, but the effort won him quite a few admirers.

Even the cricket fraternity here has been left unimpressed by the approach of some of the Indian players. They do want to see the home team win but not without facing a fight.

Salvaging pride

The pressure now is on the Indian team going into the third game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Winning the series from 2-0 down looks beyond them, but if they have to salvage pride they simply can’t afford to lose the remaining three matches in a row. A series whitewash will mean disaster for three players — Shikhar Dhawan, Ishant Sharma and Dhoni himself.

Given the venue happens to be Dhawan’s second home, as his wife is from Melbourne, there will be extra focus on him anyway.

He may not like to be the focus of attention but he has only himself to blame. Despite looking in good nick, he has squandered his innings with poor shots in both the games.

At WACA and Gabba he was middling everything until two poor shots, first a hook and then an expansive cut without any feet movement, brought about his downfall. Dhawan’s failures have been masked by the performances of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. However, he has gone through more than a player’s share of lean periods.

Ishant under scanner

In the Test series in Sri Lanka last year, it seemed Ishant had finally understood his game and found the key to success. It now seems that the lessons learnt have been frittered away.

The dropped catch at the Gabba was so hard to digest for the Indian fans that they bayed at him for his casual approach. And with his bowling performance unimpressive, the Indian cricket fraternity’s patience is surely running thin. MCG will be a massive game for the lanky bowler — that is, if he makes the cut.

That the Indian captain gave his privileged seat to Sran in the Brisbane-Melbourne flight says a lot about the situation he is in. His utility to the team as a batsman and his command over his troops, all will be at stake at the MCG.

Read | Australia comfortably chase down India’s 308 to win Brisbane ODI

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