Prior to the series-decider third and final game of the three-match ODI series between the hosts Australia and the visitors India, Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan has claimed that Australia is a good all-round side but missing David Warner and Steven Smith.
Both teams will meet for the last time in this tour on Friday at Melbourne Cricket Ground (Melbourne) while the winner of the game will win the crown.
Ahead of the Friday game, Dhawan told about the Australian team in the pre-match press conference, “Australia have got a good all-round, balanced side. Aaron Finch is a great batsman, but I feel that David Warner and Steve Smith’s presence is missing in the side. They are big players.”
Dhawan praised the two new-ball Indian bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami for providing the dominating start in the recent ODIs.
The Indian left-handed opening batsman said, “Bhuvi and Shami are experienced, that’s why in the first 10 overs we have been dominating and like to do it the same way. Finch is a great player and when you are playing against a player like him, you know that one inning can make the difference. We’ll make sure that our guards are up.”
The limited-overs specialist batsman Aaron Finch has failed to perform in the first two ODIs as he scored only 6 runs in both the games.
Talking about Finch’s early dismissal, Dhawan added, “The bowlers must have seen his weakness and they’re implementing their plans nicely. We are hitting the right areas, not giving him singles that easily or even boundaries. Once you create that pressure to a batsman, especially in limited-overs, the batsman tends to take a chance/risk to score. That’s where we have the opportunity. When a batsman is not performing, out of his own expectations, he ends up putting more pressure on himself.”
Though Finch is in off-form with the bat in hand, the most of other batsmen are performing positively in the ODIs. When Dhawan was asked the middle-overs bowling, he pointed out that there was not much offering once the ball got older.
Dhawan said, “One-day cricket is different. After a few overs, the white ball doesn’t do much, whereas in the Tests, the ball was swinging and had a lot more to offer. Last game the ball was not offering much. Of course, he played a great knock and built his innings very nicely. It’s not that we changed out plans or anything. The bowlers know what they have to do. You have to give respect to the opposition.”
While the left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed played the first ODI as the third Indian pacer, Mohammed Siraj replaced him in the second ODI of the series. Khaleel had a bowling figure of 8-0-55-0 while Siraj delivered the bowling figure of 10-0-76-0.
However, Dhawan doesn’t feel worried about those performances as he claimed that these would make the youngsters mature.
The Indian opening batsman said, “It’s not a worry. They just came in; they’re young blokes. We back them and that’s how they’re going to learn, playing against a good side. If they go for runs, that’s when they lift themselves and think more about their game and strategies. That’s how they’re mature. It’s good that they are getting chances over here. It’s not a worry. It happens. Even in the last game, one bowler went for runs but we ended up chasing the total nicely. So it’s alright.”
While the Indian skipper Virat Kohli played the century knock in the last ODI at Adelaide to set the game for India, MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik guided the visiting side to series-levelling victory. Playing his natural game calmly, Dhoni remained unbeaten on 55 off 54 balls while Karthik played a great cameo knock of 25 off 14 balls.
Dhawan said about the batting unit, “It was great to see a good team performance in the last game specially with Dhoni bhai performing well in both games and we were happy to see him getting his touch back. A player of his stature and the way he plays the game – calmness – gives so much confidence to the batsmen at the other end. Even Dinesh played a great knock in the last game so the good thing is that we have fit and matured players. It makes us a strong batting unit.”
After playing a golden duck innings in the first ODI of the series at Sydney, Dhawan provided a great start in the Adelaide ODI. Chasing down the 299-run target, Dhawan had a 47-run partnership with his long-time opening partner Rohit Sharma, before losing his wicket on 32 runs.
Talking about their opening partnership, Dhawan said, “It’s been so many years that I’ve been batting with Rohit that nothing he does surprises me anymore. It’s comfortable, and we work on an automatic mode where neither batsman speaks anything to the other. With him at the other end, there’s an assurance.”
Dhawan also feels that the all-rounder is extremely crucial in any cricket format.
The 33-year-old quoted, “When Hardik is in the team, it makes for a good balance in the team. Even when Kedar plays, the overs he bowls, those are crucial and beneficiary. Kedar is out golden arm, he’s broken so many partnerships. An all-rounder is extremely crucial, be in any format.”