Australia today crushed India by 7 wickets in the second one day international (ODI) in Brisbane to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series. This follows the first triumph of the hosts in Perth with some curious similarities between the two matches.
India won the toss and elected to bat first on both occasions. India surpassed the 300 mark both times—set a target of 310 in the Perth ODI and 309 in the Brisbane ODI. For India opener Rohit Sharma hit tons in both—a huge 171 then and 124 today. The other opener Shikhar Dhawan failed in both. Indian spinners, deprived of their slow tracks back home, hardly did anything spectacular and Indian pacers, hardly promoted in slow pitches back home and selected out of nowhere, could not be realistically expected to perform, in both. Apart from Rohit, Kohli and Rahane no batsmen could perform for India in both. Thanks to some accurate Aussie bowling with perfect yorkers in the death overs made India fall short of at least by 20 runs in both. And most importantly India lost both.
For Australia George Bailey was the key in both ODIs with a century in the first and half century in the second. Aussie fast bowlers, supposedly inexperienced, restricted India to manageable 300+ scores in both. Steve Smith contributed to the victories in both. If they were lucky not to lose Bailey early thanks to umpiring in the first, they were unlucky not to get Rohit a little earlier in the second. The hosts cruised to victory in both without having any kind of pressure.
Similarities are only of academic value, the significant part is that despite the wonderful momentum provided by the top order on both occasions India failed to capitalize fully on that. On good batting tracks just around 300 is never enough nowadays, one needs to build on that, particularly against formidable Australia. Maybe Indian skipper Dhoni did not have the confidence to put the hosts in because of the scare that with this kind half-baked Indian bowling attack the targets for India could have been around 400!
Indian batsmen and bowlers need to dig themselves in putting their sweet memories of spinning friendly home tracks in short-time oblivion. Else, in Melbourne on Sunday the series will be all over with the hosts wrapping up in a ‘similar’ fashion.