How quickly can fortunes change with the right guidance and platform! Mitchell Johnson is an example of it. The last time the left-arm pacer was in India (2012-13), his career was headed nowhere. He was part of the Test squad which lost all the four games and Johnson warmed the bench for most of them.
In his only game, the last Test in Delhi, he went wicketless. Not surprisingly, he was not picked for the Ashes. And Johnson found himself plying his trade on dead subcontinent tracks in the Indian Premier League.
He wouldn’t complain though; the IPL experience has helped turnaround the 31-year-old’s career. In the course of the Mumbai Indians’ games, he emerged a transformed bowler. Suddenly, the ball coming out his hand regularly at 150 kph plus. His performances were noticed back home and he was back in the team for the limited overs series against England.
Johnson hasn’t looked back since and gave another sterling display of high-quality fast bowling on Sunday in the opening ODI against India.
Although he took only one wicket, he set the tone by pushing the India batsmen on the backfoot.
Overall, the benefits of the IPL experience for Australia shone through as they looked more at home with the visitors going 1-0 up in the seven-game series with a 72-run win.
Opener Aaron Finch, who knew the ground well from his time with the Pune Warriors last season, set the tone with 72. Skipper George Bailey (CSK reserve batsman) then anchored the innings. With the ball, Johnson, Shane Watson, James Faulkner (both Rajasthan Royals) and Clint McKay (Sunrisers Hyderabad) combined to bundle out India for 232. The Aussie pacers had their game plan in place for all India batsmen. Scorecard
For the second time this week, they got opener Rohit Sharma caught behind with the ball moving away from him. Shikhar Dhawan also perished in the same way. Suresh Raina tried to build the innings with Virat Kohli, adding 71 for the fourth wicket in 13 overs, but the pressure of the climbing run-rate got to him and he perished trying to go for a big hit.
Skipper MS Dhoni admitted: “The Australians executed their plans really well; they bowled the right length and didn’t give us any room. They also extracted good bounce because of their height.”