Cricket fans in Australia are not going to forget this series in a hurry thanks to the sheer volume of runs raked in by the India batsmen. Most importantly, it was a Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma show.
If the Mumbai batsman was the Man-of-the-Series in the ODIs, Kohli wasn’t far behind. On Sunday night, the Delhi batsman took the Man-of-the-Series in the Twenty20s, and Sharma wasn’t far behind.
In the 50-over games, Sharma hit 441 runs at an average of 110.25 with two hundreds and a half-century while Kohli aggregated 381 at 76.20 with two centuries and two half-centuries. Kohli averaged a mind-numbing 199 in the T20s with three straight fifties, two of them unbeaten; Sharma made two fifties, averaging 75.50.
Kohli’s run on the tour reads: 91, 59, 117, 106, 8, 90*, 59* and 50. Sharma’s sequence is 171*, 124, 6, 41, 99, 31, 60, 52. Mind-boggling numbers on any wicket, ground or conditions. If you add the run tally of Shikhar Dawan and Ajinkya Rahane, it’s a return of five hundreds and seven half-centuries for the top-order in the ODIs.
While it will be easy to put it down to the batting wickets, a lot of planning has gone into turning this batting unit into the powerhouse it has become. Every detail, be it strength or weakness, has been dissected and worked on.
These were perfect strips for batting alright, but even when conditions are stacked against them, Australia are renowned for their planning and execution. However, they were upstaged by India as far as batting was concerned.
Given his tremendous driving ability, bowlers world over had targeted Kohli with a line outside off-stump. It was countered by the Indian think-tank by sharpening Kohli’s shots through point and in front of the region for deliveries wide outside off-stump. It forced the Australia pacers to bowl into him. In the eight games, there was not a single period of play when they knew where to stop him.
Against the spinners, Kohli was unstoppable the way he used his feet; he plays the sweep shot with even more control now. Off-spinners like Moeen Ali had kept the India batsmen in check in England in 2014 and Kohli had been constantly working on it. Here, he was playing effortlessly against Glenn Maxwell and Co.
The transformation in Sharma is even more striking. He has added solidity to his flamboyance and these are the benefits of good footwork. His early success saw a lot of dependence on the use of hands. By getting into the rhythm of using a full stride forward or back, the dependence on hands has reduced, making him a stronger force. Also, the back and across movement and keeping hands close to the body is giving great results. In his stance he is well balanced with knees flexed.
Dhawan had looked in good nick even in the first two games but threw it away with loose shots. He was a different player after becoming more selective in his shot selection during the initial period. The manner in which he moved around in the crease to create run-scoring opportunities was another feature of his game that caught the eye.