On the eve of the fourth India-Australia ODI at Canberra, opener David Warner appeared to be in a sympathetic mood. Although, he had missed the previous two games due to the birth of his second daughter, Warner seemed to empathise with Indian bowlers who have looked helpless on the flat pitches Down Under.
Simultaneously, Warner advised the visitors to be consistent with their line and length. Speaking to the Australian media, he suggested that Indian bowlers should look to dry up runs for the batsmen.
Warner had a point. But on match day, it seemed the Indians did not pay heed to Warner’s advice. He, in turn, meted out punishment for their temerity.
The opener responded with a 93-run knock which proved that he might be sympathetic but just could not take it easy on the Indian bowlers. Alongside Aaron Finch, he applied pressure on the bowlers. They managed a 187-run opening stand. All this was possible as the Indians again failed to alter their approach.
It was expected of Indian skipper MS Dhoni to come up with a plan notwithstanding the fact that the series had already been conceded. All through the three ODIs, Dhoni was desperately looking for a bowler who could provide movement in the air and restrict fodder for the pace-loving Aussies.
Barinder Sran, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar made the cut in the first game. After Bhuvneshwar disappointed at Perth, Ishant replaced him. At Canberra, Bhuvneshwar was once again called back in place of Sran. That per se explains Dhoni’s state of mind as to how desperately he wants a swing bowler to come good.
But it seems that none of the three pacers looked concerned. Bhuvneshwar used to be India’s new-ball bowler and till recently, the best at the death. But his recent inclination to add pace to his repertoire has taken away the essence of his bowling. Neither is he swinging the ball anymore nor does he have the kind of pace required to unsettle batsmen. And this in-between category generally doesn’t help the team’s cause.
Warner has a short back-lift. His bat has a thick blade and the entire concentration of the wood is at the centre. That implies that he needs pace to time his strokes to perfection.
India has two genuine quicks in Yadav and Ishant. Both clock over 140 kmph. Warner loves the pace and waits for them to err with their lines. But as soon as the pace drops and Warner fails to achieve that momentum, his left hand, the bottom one, comes into play and provides the thrust to clear the infield.
We saw that in the first game at Perth when Sran got Warner with a medium pace delivery. The Aussie opener had to take the aerial route to search for runs and ended up finding Virat Kohli at mid-off. At Canberra, there were three instances of the same. Warner approached the ball and defended that with a jab. Gurkeerat Mann bowled a slow delivery which urged Warner to scoop it over fine-leg and Yadav could not hold on to it.
While Mann and Dhawan are all-rounders, Bhuvneshwar is expected to take the lead against such players. He should stick to his gentle seam ups which can move in the air and force the batsmen to think twice. But disappointingly, Bhuvneshwar is sacrificing his quality of swing with pace. The result is that he ended up conceding 69 in his 8 overs. Australia proved that if they batted first, 350 was always possible. They made 348.
Dhoni, though can tolerate Yadav and Ishant giving away runs because being erratic is a side-effect of being quick. But they also get you wickets which Bhuvneshwar currently is not being able to.