Jaipur run-chase shows future of Indian cricket in safe hands
The manner in which Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli batted in the second ODI against Australia in Jaipur, even a target of 400-plus, says Haresh Pandya, would not have been beyond India’s reach.
It was champagne stuff. There is no better way to describe how Indian cricket’s young Turks snatched victory from the jaws of a seeming humiliation in the second ODI against Australia on Wednesday, and that too with ridiculous ease.
With this majestic win in the royal city of Jaipur, the triumvirate of Rohit Sharma (141 not out), Virat Kohli (100 not out) and Shikhar Dhawan (95) made a determined statement that the future of Indian cricket is in the safer hands of its talented youngsters.
It is never an easy task to chase a target of 300-plus in any form of cricket; certainly not 360 in only 50 overs; decidedly not against a fighting bunch of players from Australia. But these new generation Indian cricketers have been reared on different diet altogether. Second-best has no place in their outlook; nor the word impossible for that matter.
Unbelievable but true, the margin of victory said it all. India reached the target at the cost of only one wicket and 6.3 overs yet to be bowled.
Image: Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli
Contrasting in styles yet commanding in approach, the trio did not give any sign of being under any pressure of a Herculean run-chase.
The nonchalance with which Dhawan, Sharma and Kohli were smashing the Australian bowlers, it appeared as if the West Indians of the 1970s and 1980s were mauling their opponents.
There were shades of Roy Fredericks in Dhawn’s ruthless annihilation of speedsters and spinners, Gordon Greenidge in Sharma’s apparently effortless brilliance and Vivian Richards in Kohli’s languid grace and raw power.
The most heartening feature of the Indian innings was that even after the fall of Dhawan at a crucial juncture, almost at the halfway mark, his replacement Kohli and well-set Sharma continued to throw caution to the wind.
And, yet, as Mahendra Singh Dhoni rightly observed, they were “controlled” in their “aggression”.
Image: Shikhar Dhawan
'It was an ideal pitch'
Indeed, it is hard to cease marvelling at the talent and confidence these youngsters ooze. The murderous mood in which Dhawan, Sharma and Kohli were batting, even a target of 400-plus would not have been beyond India’s reach.
There was no cricketing shot that the three did not execute or exhibit. Dhawan was simply superb on either side of the wicket, pulling and driving audaciously as is his wont. While Sharma was a connoisseur’s delight in the 'off', Kohli was just unstoppable in the 'on'.
One wonders if anyone watching the three missed seniors like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and even Sachin Tendulkar for a moment. Sehwag was remembered only when Kohli surpassed him as the fastest Indian centurion in ODIs in terms of balls faced.
Doubtless the wicket was tailor-made for batting and Australia, too, made the most of it after George Bailey won the toss. Still, it calls for a fair amount of talent and steely resolve to play the way Dhawan, Sharma and Kohli did regardless of chasing a monumental target.
“It was an ideal pitch, fast outfield, but you need to keep the shape as a batsman, that’s what they did well. Most of our batsmen don’t have the experience of a Yuvraj Singh, who has played over 250 matches. What you’ve to do is to be aggressive, but what’s important is that you don’t have to slog, you’ve to maintain good shape,” said Dhoni.
Image: MS Dhoni
'We need to improve in bowling'
That Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni himself, not to speak of all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, did not even get to bat shows both solidness and depth in the Indian batting line-up.
With such gifted young batsmen at his command, Dhoni has reasons to believe that he is right on course to build the Indian team for the defence of the World Cup champions’ title in 2015. They may have come a cropper in the first ODI in Pune in the face of a target of 305, but didn’t they make a mockery of Australia's score of 201 in the only Twenty20 game in Rajkot before that?
If only the bowling improves a little, Dhoni’s brigade will be hard to beat.
“We need to improve in bowling,” admitted India's captain. “Our batting is looking good, but it's unfair to assume the batsmen are going to chase a 300-plus target every time.”
Image: MS Dhoni and Ishant Sharma