India’s victory against Australia in the third ODI brought along with it a number of enthusiastic social media posts by the visiting team’s players. From skipper Virat Kohli to pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, the architects of the consolation win shared their happiness with curiously similar images and captions.

While the 13-run win in Canberra may not have been “epic”, as some suggested, it was indeed entertaining. Having posted a total of 302 batting first, the Indian team fought hard and survived a Glenn Maxwell assault towards the end to emerge victorious in what was a topsy-turvy match.

As sweet as the victory may have felt to the players, though, the fact of the matter is that it came in a dead rubber. Australia’s series-clinching wins in the first two One-Day Internationals were emphatic and Aaron Finch and Co were surely the better team when it mattered.

Video highlights: India prevent an Australian clean sweep in ODIs after win in 3rd ODI

For India, there are hardly any real positives to take away from the series. Kohli notched-up consecutive half-centuries but uncharacteristically failed to convert them into bigger scores. KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan got fifties but didn’t do much in the other two games. Jasprit Bumrah had his moments but struggled to find his best for the most part. And Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan showed promise in the inconsequential third game.

In terms of the big picture for this tour Down Under, the performances of Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja are an important gain for Team India. The two showed consistency and their sensational, unbeaten partnership of 150 runs on Wednesday played a key role in helping India avoid a whitewash.

Pandya came into the series having a played an important role for Mumbai Indians in their title-winning run in the Indian Premier League. And the confidence he carried was there for all to see. After hitting a valiant 76-ball 90 in the first ODI, the right-hander played an even better knock in the third game. Better because he went out of his comfort zone to show restraint before going on the offensive.

India were in a tricky position when Pandya was at the crease on Wednesday. He was batting on 10 off 18 when captain Kohli perished at the end of the 32nd over and there was a lot left to do. But instead of giving in to impulses, the 27-year-old displayed remarkable composure in pacing his innings to perfection. He got to his half-century off 55 deliveries before bringing out the big hits to finish with a match-winning 76-ball 92.

Jadeja too was one of the few bright spots for his team Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. In the three ODIs against Australia, he may not have been a game-changer with the ball but his economy-rate of 6.17 in the high-scoring series was far from the worst. And with the bat, his importance at No 7 was unmissable.

After a slow start to the series with a 37-ball 25 in the first game, Jadeja did what was expected of him with an 11-ball 24 in the second ODI. But his best was saved for the final game. Just like he did in the World Cup semi-final last year, the 31-year-old left-hander showed that he can be counted on when the chips are down. Along with Pandya, he launched a stunning assault on the Australian bowlers to score 66 off 50, with five fours and three sixes, to set up the win for India.

On this tour, as is always the case, the biggest prize is the Test series. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that the ODIs saw the Indian team lack a bit of motivation. The players didn’t have that zing having just come out of the grueling IPL and the 1-2 defeat doesn’t come as a surprise. And looking ahead at the all-important Tests, the form shown by Pandya and Jadeja raises a number of questions.

Pandya, who has not been included in the Test squad for now, could well be an asset with the bat in the longest format too, considering the surety with which he’s going about his business at the moment. Be it in the IPL or the just-concluded ODI series, he has had a lot going for him. He is striking the ball wonderfully, showing a great sense of match-awareness and looking in complete control of his game while at the crease.

In terms of Jadeja, his immense all-round capabilities will pose a welcome headache for the team management. Ravichandran Ashwin will most-likely be the first-choice spinner for the opening Test but there’s a lot that the left-hander brings to the table. He possesses the ability to accelerate lower down the order, he is good at playing the holding role with the ball, and his prowess as a fielder needs no introduction.

Perhaps, Jadeja can be looked at as the all-rounder in the team in the form of a fifth bowler. His skill with both bat and ball will lend great balance to the side and lend flexibility to Kohli.

Jadeja's overall record in Tests (last 3 years)

Mat Runs HS Bat Av 100 Wkts BBI Bowl Av 5 Ct Ave Diff
14 693 100* 53.30 1 48 4/17 27.68 0 8 25.62

Jadeja's record in away Tests (last 3 years)

Mat Runs HS Bat Av 100 Wkts BBI Bowl Av 5 Ct Ave Diff
6 289 86* 41.28 0 22 4/79 31.22 0 2 10.05
Courtesy ESPNcricinfo

Due to the draining nature of the IPL and the extended break before that, the two practice games ahead of the Test series will be significant. Ravi Shastri and Co will be keen to make the most of those opportunities and ensure the team is up for the challenge in red-ball cricket, which wasn’t quite the case in the ODIs. Perhaps, India should rope Pandya into the Test squad and try him out in the practice games. If he continues to show form, it will do no harm to have him around during the four-match series.

For now though, as the players stated in chorus in their social media posts, we move on to the T20Is, hoping for the men in blue to further raise their game.