There was one poignant moment that stood out as India romped to a second successive victory and a series win in the Twenty20 series against Australia in Melbourne on Friday. Yuvraj Singh was supposed to be the comeback man but because of India’s batting might, he has not had a chance to put bat on ball so far. He made amends in another way though – he was called on to bowl in the twelfth over of Australia’s chase. The dangerous Glenn Maxwell was batting and the crafty Yuvraj Singh spotted him moving away towards the leg side and fired it outside off stump. Quick as a flash, Mahendra Singh Dhoni took the bails off and pointed at Yuvraj Singh in celebration, as if reminding him of the value he brought to the side.
Dhoni scripts a turnaround
And what a turnaround it has been for Dhoni. With furious critics calling for his head after being on the wrong end of a 4-1 thrashing in the One Day International series, Dhoni seemed to be bereft of answers. But somewhat fittingly, he has found recourse in the Twenty20 format to answer his detractors. It was after all in the Twenty20 format in 2007 that Dhoni first shot into the spotlight and with (probably) one last World Twenty20 coming up in just a month, he has proved that he deserves to marshal his troops for one last attack.
Of course, the Twenty20 format is not taken too seriously, but it is worth remembering that winning in Australia is not easy. In 24 Twenty20 International matches played in Australia against Australia before the start of this series, Australia had only lost on seven occasions. Only once before this have Australia lost a Twenty20 series (consisting of two or more matches) at home. And of course, just to demonstrate that India have hardly enjoyed much limited-overs success down under, this is only India’s third limited-overs series win in Australia after the World Championship of Cricket triumph in 1985 and the 2012 Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series.
So, while this win might not erase the hurt of the ODI loss, it is an impressive achievement, if viewed at in singularity.
Pieces falling into place
The other point to take away from this series win is that the Twenty20 format seems to be providing the answers to the questions the ODI series raised. If India were being repeatedly criticised for slowing down after a good start (supposedly for being “milestone-driven”) in the ODIs, the fast pace of the Twenty20 has meant that the batsmen have adopted an all hands on deck approach. Consequently, Dhoni who was accused of losing his power-hitting skills, has surprised one and all with some brutal cameos in the last two innings.
But it is the bowling that has provided the greatest cause for cheer. Where Indian bowlers like Umesh Yadav and Co were being smashed all over the park earlier, it has been a very different story in the Twenty20 series. Of course, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin have been the front-runners but the rise and continued rise of Jasprit Bumrah has been marvellous to watch – a skiddy bowler who consistently surprises batsmen with his pace and unique action.
The pieces are falling into place and the jigsaw is almost solved. Of course, things still remain a work-in-progress, especially for the ODI team, but with a whole host of Twenty20s coming up in the next few months, not a lot of Indian cricket fans will be complaining!
Second Twenty20: India (184/3 in 20 overs) beat Australia (157/8 in 20 overs) by 27 runs.