Australia crushes India as redesigned line-up creates World Cup selection dilemmas
Injuries have required a day’s experimentation in India and the results have given the Australian selectors more than food for thought after a second game stoppage for the home side in the second game of the series.
While Mitchell Starc was the match-winner, equalizing a record he already held with a crushing spell of fast bowling as the tourists inflicted India’s biggest ODI defeat at home, the efforts around him were eye-opening.
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Mitchell Marsh opened the batting with David Warner again looking on from the touchline and was nearly unstoppable for a second game in a row as he and Travis Head rolled in the meager 117 target without dropping a wicket.
But before that Sean Abbott and Nathan Ellis, playing in the absence of skipper Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, won three and two wickets respectively and ensured Australia’s 15-man squad for the World Cup in India later this year will be more debating who to leave out than who to pick.
Starc, who hit his ninth five-wicket draw in ODI cricket, a number surpassed by only two bowlers in the game’s history, said it was hard not to be satisfied with such a dominant win when one knows the World Cup is never far away from their minds.
“Every streak is a chance to represent your country, but with the World Cup in mind, of course under special conditions and of course playing against India, I think that’s a by-product of that streak,” he said.
“The other thing is still that it’s still a one-day series against India in India that we want to win.
“And obviously if we got through that game and then we’re probably more focused on the World Cup, there are parts of that series that will have the World Cup in the back of our minds.
“But I think mainly for this group it’s still a chance to win a one-day series in India, which is pretty special.”
While Head was seen as a likely replacement for retired captain Aaron Finch at the top of the standings, Marsh has also proven himself as a first-going weapon in two games in India.
He’s hit 11 sixes in scores of 81 to start the streak and then gone 66 unbeaten, his 147 runs coming from just 101 balls, with 16 fours as well as in a powerhouse show of hitting.
But while he’s caught the eye, Starc’s white ball weapons continue to be key to any Australian limited overs success.
He won four wickets in the first 10 overs of the Indian innings and is the only Australian bowler to have done so, having previously done so in Perth.
The 33-year-old, who was a late starter on the tour after overcoming a finger injury, said his plan at ODI cricket has “probably not changed in 13 years” and has remained as effective as ever.
“Bowl full, hit the stumps, try to swing it,” Starc said.
“I think that was my job for a long time, trying to get wickets forward on the power play.
“Sometimes that means I’m probably more expensive, but I’m trying to bring in almost a layoff.
“I’ve tried to be aggressive and take wickets on the power play for a long time and I think our overall bowling offense did that today when we have six wickets on the power play.
“That’s a big step forward in one-day cricket when you obviously have a strong batting lineup, which India has. If you can take wickets on the power play it means we control the game in a way which we did today which was really great to see.”
Game three of the series takes place in Chennai on Wednesday.