It could be said that there have been two schools of batting on display in the India-Australia ODI series so far. One has been more about scoring through boundaries while the other has been about taking the tougher route in hot and humid Australian conditions -- running between the wickets.
While Indian batsmen belong to the first school, the Aussies have adopted the second approach which has been so effective in chasing down 300-plus targets with ease.
Largely, it is the pair of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli which has done the hard work in both the games, providing solid platforms for India. However, the Aussie pair of Steve Smith-George Bailey has not only outsmarted the two but has also left India worrying that they need to put much more on the board than just over 300 they have managed.
Push for more
In the context of the game, and considering the flat pitches on offer, had India pushed a little harder, a target of 350 would have been within their reach.
Slowing down during the middle overs can happen while setting targets as batsmen tend to ease up a bit, but that has hurt India. The stats show how much of a difference their approaches have made. Rohit might have scored successive centuries but he has also consumed more dot balls than Smith and Bailey. Virat too has been guilty on this count.
For instance, Rohit and Virat have played 212 dot balls between them in the two games; Smith and Bailey have played just 128. At Perth, Rohit and Virat stitched together a 207-run stand in 37.5 overs at a run-rate of 5.47. Smith and Bailey added 242 in 37.1 overs at 6.51.
At Brisbane, Virat and Rohit got 125 in 21.3 overs at 5.83; Smith and Bailey were again quicker, scoring 78 in just 11 overs at over 7. Later, Bailey raised a 65-run stand with Glenn Maxwell, which was even better at 7.95.
While chases can throw up such stats, it also indicates the mindset of a side. India have been setting targets so far, but individual statistics go against them. Rohit’s unbeaten 171 at Perth had 77 dot balls out of the 163 he faced in all. He scored 94 runs in boundaries and only ran 77 in that innings. In the next game, he played 58 dot balls and scored 62 runs via boundaries, and ran for as many runs. Virat consumed 46 dot balls at Perth but 46% of his runs came through boundaries. Only Ajinkya Rahane showed intent by scoring 59 of his 89 by running for them at Brisbane.
Now, let us compare these stats with those of Smith and Bailey at Perth. While Smith had 44 dot balls, ran 93 and collected 56 through boundaries, Bailey had 49 dot balls, ran 72 and scored 40 via big hits.
More Scoring shots
The only thing that sets the Australians apart is the number of scoring shots, which have clearly been more than that of the Indians.
It could thus be inferred that Indian batsmen, though scoring heavily, shy away from running for them. They prefer to stay at the wicket and wait for the opportunity to play big hits. Rohit and Virat complement each other because both have similar styles. Australians look for runs off every ball. Smith and Bailey enjoy that. This has a far greater effect on the opposition as the score is constantly ticking over and an odd boundary makes it a big over.