There was a lot of talk ahead of the ODI series about the scoreline that India would w n against Australia and its time for some experimentation before the World Cup. There was absolutely no talk about the struggling Australian side, leave alone the visitors winning the 5-match ODI series.
Just like in life, scripts can sometimes go awry and in a matter of a week’s time, both Australia and India find themselves on the opposite side of the spectrum. This clearly shows that one week is a lot of time in international cricket.
To win a series in India is itself a huge task for any visiting team, but to win a 5-match series after being 2-0 down is something very special that Australia has achieved. Let us also remember that this is not a full-strength Australian side with few star players missing due to ban and injuries.
If you add David Warner, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood to this side, Australia once again become a strong side and one cannot take them lightly especially in World Cups where they tend to raise their game. Winning the World Cup 5 times is a testimony to a great sporting nation.
As far as India are concerned, there were quite a few questions ahead of the series, mainly the No. 4 batting slot, the all-rounder's place in case Hardik Pandya isn't fully fit and doubts over the best team combination.
With World Cup in mind, India did try to juggle a few things around but in the process have lost a rare ODI series at home and for the first time under the leadership of Virat Kohli.
Let’s go through the key takeaways from the 5-match ODI series.
#3. India’s over-reliance on top 3
If there is one big area of concern for the men in blue going into the World Cup, it’s their middle order batting which will be their Achilles heel. The team has been on the lookout for a solid No. 4 batsman for quite a while now but after trying out so many players in the last year or so, no one has cemented that spot yet.
Before the Australia series, Ambati Rayudu looked certain especially after a good 90 in the 5th and final ODI against New Zealand away from home. But his shortcomings were exposed by Aussie quicks in the series.
It is very evident now that Indian batting is over-reliant on the top 3 and if opposition teams can get one or two early wickets, they would know that Kohli’s men could be put under serious pressure with a brittle middle order.
#2. India’s bowling is the stronger suit
It will be probably for the first time that India are going into a mega event with bowling as their stronger suit and not the batting.
Over the years, India have always won matches and tournaments with batting as their stronger arm out of the two. However, it will be a very different World Cup in England and Wales this time around.
In Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami, India have a fast bowling trio that can cause havoc in any given conditions. To back the pacers, India are blessed to have the wrist spin of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal who have the knack of picking wickets in the middle order even on good batting surfaces.
It won't be a bad move by Virat Kohli to opt to defend a score in crunch games because the bowlers look a lot confident when compared to batsmen as we saw in the final ODI against Australia at Delhi.
#1. Australia turning it around in time
Australian cricket was at its worst in 2018, both on and off the field and it looked like they have forgotten how to win a cricket match irrespective of any format.
In that period, they lost at home in a Test series against India for the first time ever and were convincingly thrashed by the same side in ODI series as well.
Australia’s ODI captain Aaron Finch was going through a very poor run with the bat. Young batsmen looked out of sorts and even their most famed bowling attack wasn’t delivering up to the best.
It looked the same old story until the two ODIs against India. The second match at Nagpur was a classic example of how Australia have lost the art of winning a cricket match as they lost by 8 runs after being in a very comfortable position.
The likes of Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell and Ashton Turner have shown that they belong at this level and it’s a good sign for Australian cricket that they are now converting the promise into performance.
Adam Zampa has been a revelation with the ball and his wicket-taking ability in the middle overs could be crucial for Australia in the World Cup. Jhye Richardson, the 22-year old fast bowler looks a promising prospect and Pat Cummins’ great form augurs well for the men in green and gold.