India fought back from 1-0 down to win a bilateral ODI series in Australia for the first time ever. This marked an end to a tour in which they also drew the T20I series 1-1 and recorded a historic 2-1 win in the Test series that came after it. India came into the series on a high but with their own set of problems nonetheless. The suspension of Hardik Pandya threw the team dynamics off-balance and that was perhaps one big reason behind their defeat in Sydney. But a number of individuals stepped up at important stages to give themselves a positive end to the tour.
Shikhar Dhawan (55 runs in 3 innings, Average: 18.33)
He was the highest runscorer in the T20I series but didn’t quite hit the mark during the ODIs. He fell for a duck in the first match to Jason Behrendorff and that was part of a top order collapse that cost India the match. Behrendorff got him in the second ODI too and this time it was because he was going for one shot too many, skying an attempted shot over midwicket. In the third ODI, he was dismissed primarily due to bowler Marcus Stoinis’ quick reflex to snaffle a catch to his right in the midst of his follow through. One could argue that Dhawan helped the team’s cause in the second and third ODI but his performance have not met the high standards he set for himself.
Rohit Sharma (185 runs in 3 innings, Average: 61.66)
The Indian vice-captain treated the Sydney crowd to a typically weighted innings, although that didn’t end up well for the team. In the second match, he ensured India crossed 100 and Virat Kohli was set at the other end before an erroneous top edge got him. He fell for nine in the third match, falling to Peter Siddle by edging the final delivery of the sixth over to the slip cordon.
Virat Kohli (153 runs in 3 innings, Average: 51.00)
Kohli was left stunned when he was holed out at square leg off Jhye Richardson in the first match for a paltry three runs. But normal service was resumed in the second match when India were asked to chase again and he scored 104. His 82-run partnership with MS Dhoni for the fourth wicket pretty much ended the contest. It looked like it would be the same in Melbourne but the partnership was stopped once it reached 54. But that only acted as a foundation for Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav to work on as India secured the series.
Ambati Rayudu (24 runs in 2 innings, Average: 12.00)
One of the side effects of the absence of Hardik Pandya, Ambati Rayudu had a series to forget and his place in the side is now under doubt due to the manner in which Dhoni took to the no.4 position in the final ODI. He lasted just one delivery in Sydney. In the second, with Kohli at the other end and the boundaries drying up, Rayudu succumbed to the pressure and tried to go big and only ended up being caught at deep midwicket.
MS Dhoni (193 runs in 3 innings, Average: 193.00)
How do you answer critics who think your time’s up and that you should make way for a younger player waiting in the wings? If you are MS Dhoni, you simply end the series as the team’s highest run scorer with consecutive fifties and two of them in match-winning efforts. The veteran wicketkeeper-batsman was declared man of the series for his performances and his performance at number four in the final ODI gave the batting lineup the kind of balance that has come at a premium.
Dinesh Karthik (37 runs in 2 innings, Average 37)
Karthik’s importance in the lower order was there for all to see in the second match as he added the finishing touches to the chase with MS Dhoni. But, his inability to contribute as a part-time bowler is where he misses out to Kedar Jadhav if it comes down to picking either one of the two. He did say that the management backs him as a finisher, though, and he has shown that he is more than capable of doing it. Considering the fact that Kohli likes to keep an element of unpredictability to his squad, Karthik looks as important as anyone in the run-up to the World Cup.
Kedar Jadhav (61 runs in 1 innings)
He did exactly what was expected of him when given the chance. Kedar has developed into an important asset for India over the past couple of years in white-ball cricket but he is prone to injuries which means the management will use him sparingly keeping the World Cup in mind.
Ravindra Jadeja (2 wickets in 3 matches; Average: 75)
Jadeja showed in the Test series how important he remains to India’s cause in red-ball cricket but the same can’t be said in the ODIs. He failed to deliver as a batsman in the first ODI and it remains clear that he will be below Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the pecking order. His singular truly unique feature is that he’s the best fielder India have got, possibly the best in the world currently, and he showed that multiple times in these three ODIs.
Kuldeep Yadav (2 wickets in 2 matches; Average: 60)
He could play only one Test and made the most of it in Sydney. The Australian middle order were picking him pretty well, as Kohli himself admitted after the third match which led to him being benched in favour of Chahal in the last ODI. It has to be said, though, that like Rayudu, the breaking of the Kuldeep-Chahal bowling partnership might have been another side effect for India adjusting to life without Hardik Pandya.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (8 wickets in 3 matches; Average: 17.37)
Highest wicket taker in the series, Bhuvneshwar showed signs of rust in the first match and still remained lethal. He made Australian captain Aaron Finch his bunny and took four wickets in the second ODI. He may only have had two in the final ODI but he was hitting the right areas with such consistency that he stifled the Australians for runs in the early stages of the innings. A lot of eyes were on him before this series started due to the long absence he had to take due to injuries and lack of match fitness and he has come back as one of India’s top performers once again.
Yuzvendra Chahal (6 wickets in 1 match)
He was the surprise element up India’s sleeve in the third ODI and he left the Australians with their mouths hanging. His 6/42 was the joint-best figures for an Indian in an ODI played in Australia, matching Ajit Agarkar’s efforts in 2004. By the time this match came up, India’s tour of Australia was already being seen as a resounding success and Chahal’s performance was the cherry on top of the cake.
Khaleel Ahmed (0 wickets in 1 match)
He turned a few heads with his performance in the limited overs series against West Indies and picked three wickets in the T20 series. He got only one match during this ODI series in which 55 runs were conceded off the 8 overs he bowled.
Mohammed Siraj (0 wickets in 1 match)
Siraj would love to put this performance behind him as quickly as possible. He went for 76 for no wickets in the 10 overs he bowled in the second match. That is the second-most expensive figures for an Indian debutant. He almost got Glenn Maxwell LBW in that match, with the latter being saved by DRS.
Vijay Shankar (0 wickets in 1 match)
He was airdropped after the second ODI and did a pretty good job in the third. He followed up Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s efforts with the new ball by bowling consistently tight lines and not allowing the middle order batsman get a hold early in their innings. His real evaluation, though, will come in the New Zealand tour.