Australia finally win an ODI overseas

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

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    Australia finally broke their streak of 11 consecutive ODI losses away from home with a composed victory over India last night.

    For a while it looked as if Australia’s total of 5-334 would not be enough when India’s openers bolted to 0-106 from 18 overs.

    But Australia’s relatively inexperienced pace trio of Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins bowled with discipline through the middle and late overs to halt the Indian charge.

    That was just as well because the Indian batsmen once again demolished Australia’s spinners. Adam Zampa and part-time offie Travis Head together took 1-101 from 15 overs.

    Combined with left arm tweaker Ashton Agar, Australia’s slow bowlers have returned the horrific figures of four wickets at 76 in this series, while conceding a whopping 6.6 runs per over.

    Meanwhile, Coulter-Nile (nine wickets at 23) and Kane Richardson (seven wickets at 22) have been prolific, and although Cummins average of 47 is poor he has been wonderfully tight, giving up just 4.77 runs per over this series.

    Coulter-Nile and Richardson yesterday utilised clever changes of pace to keep the Indian batsmen guessing. By comparison, it was Cummins scorching speed which challenged his opponents – even at the end of his spell he was nudging 150kmh and rushing the batsmen.

    Kane Richardson Australia Cricket ODI 2017

    (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

    While Australia will be relieved to end their run of defeats overseas, it must be remembered this victory came in a dead rubber against an Indian side which was without many key players.

    Most notably, India rested quality opening bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya, and deceptive left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav. As a result, their attack looked far more vulnerable.

    Even still, for the second consecutive match Australia failed to capitalise on a fantastic start to their innings. In the third ODI Australia were in a dominant position at 1-224 before losing 5-51 and finishing with a below par total of 6-293 which India chased easily.

    Yesterday the tourists were even better placed batting first. At 0-231 with 15 overs remaining they were well within reach of making 400 and should not have made any less than 370.

    Then Aaron Finch (94), David Warner (124) and Steve Smith (3) all fell in the space of 14 deliveries. Instead of throwing caution to the wind and accelerating towards a massive total, Australia were left to consolidate, wasting crucial overs at the death.

    Even with a late flourish from Peter Handscomb (43 from 30 balls) and Marcus Stoinis (15no from 9 balls), Australia only reached 5-334, making just 103 runs from their final 15 overs.

    On the bright side, Australia have plenty of reason to be pleased with the batting efforts of Finch, Warner and Handscomb.

    After being in poor form for the best part of two years in ODIs, Finch played wonderfully well yet again after his drought-breaking ton in the previous match. Warner, meanwhile, fired for the first time this series and continued his upward form curve in foreign conditions across all formats.

    His ODI record across the past 18 months has been phenomenal, with 2021 runs at 63, including 10 centuries from just 34 matches.

    David Warner Australia ODI Cricket 2017

    (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

    As for Handscomb, the 26-year-old displayed the versatility which Australia will need from him if he is to become a fixture in the ODI lineup. Batting in the middle order, Handscomb has always appeared suited to steadying an innings after a few wickets, or working the ones and twos while a more aggressive batting partner goes for their shots.

    What was less clear was whether he could play the role of a finisher, coming to the crease in the final 15 overs and accelerating immediately. Yesterday Handscomb accumulated few dot balls and found the boundary when required.

    Australia badly need a middle order batsman who can play the role of either an anchor or a finisher, depending on the circumstances.

    They were previously blessed with players in this mould such as Mike Hussey and Michael Bevan. While Handscomb obviously is a long, long way from going anywhere near equalling their records, he is Australia’s best candidate to at least mimic their styles.

    In the final ODI Australia will have a chance to claw back some respect and Handscomb will have an opportunity to cement his ODI spot.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco