Australia derailed by India’s spinners

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

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    India’s rookie wrist spinners derailed Australia yesterday as the visitors tried to chase down 164 from 21 overs in a rain-shortened match in Chennai.

    The hosts made the bold move of overlooking veteran finger spinners Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja in their squad for this five-match ODI series in favour of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav.

    Chahal and Yadav had just seven ODIs each to their names before yesterday but expertly exploited a dry surface to bore a hole through Australia’s middle-to-lower order. Aside from Glenn Maxwell, who smashed 39 from 18 balls including 22 off one over from Yadav, the Australian batsmen laboured against spin.

    Before that, it was Indian seamers Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya who combined to reduce Australia to 3-29. Bumrah bowled West Australian all-rounder Hilton Cartwright, who looked liable to get out any ball during his innings of one from eight deliveries.

    Then captain Steve Smith and young gun Travis Head played a pair of woeful shots to gift wickets to Pandya. The Indian all-rounder had earlier rescued India from 5-87 with a daring 83 from 66 balls, a knock which included five sixes and helped the home side make a respectable 7-281.

    A brilliant spell with the new ball from Nathan Coulter-Nile had shocked the hosts. The West Australian quick took three wickets in his first four overs and India could have been reduced to 4-11 if not for a bad drop by captain Steve Smith at slip after Pat Cummins had induced an edge from opener Rohit Sharma.

    Bowling at up to 150kmh, Cummins rushed the Indian batsmen on a surface which offered nice pace and carry with the new ball.

    Australia's Pat Cummins


    Coulter-Nile was not as swift, operating in the 137–142kmh range, but it was his ability to swing the ball which set him apart. Maintaining a perfect seam position, the 29-year-old earned a tantalising shape which elicited a slew of false strokes from the Indian top order.

    First he had Ajinkya Rahane caught by keeper Matthew Wade, then he drew superstar Virat Kohli into an optimistic square drive which flew high towards Glenn Maxwell, who completed an extraordinary one-handed catch. When Coulter-Nile earned another catch for Wade, this time from the bat of Manish Pandey, India were in disarray.

    It was yet another impressive display in coloured clothing from Coulter-Nile, who has performed admirably across his stop-start ODI career, taking 30 wickets at an average of 26. Coulter-Nile’s 17 ODIs have been spread out across four years, partly because of several injury-enforced absences and partly because of the wealth of pace options Australia possess.

    Over his career, he has had to compete for a spot with the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Mitch Johnson, Pat Cummins, James Faulkner and John Hastings. Coulter-Nile has only earned his opportunity here due to injuries to three of those quicks. Starc and Hazlewood are the top-two ranked ODI pacemen in the world, while Hastings was the second-highest wicket-taker worldwide in ODIs last year.

    Despite his fine efforts to date, Coulter-Nile looks destined to remain on the fringes of the ODI set-up, called upon only when others are injured. With his nasty bouncer, deceptive changes of pace and natural swing, he is a fantastic back-up for Australia to boast. For the remainder of this series, he certainly should be picked ahead of Faulkner, who once again laboured against his bogey side.

    As I argued in my series preview, Faulkner should not be picked when Australia play India, whose batsmen have well and truly figured out the left-armer.

    Australian cricketer James Faulkner bowls during the Australian team training session at the Gabba in Brisbane, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. Australia play England in the first One Day International at the Gabba tomorrow. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Faulkner doesn’t swing the ball, doesn’t earn sharp bounce, and bowls at a gentle pace in the 128-135kmh range. What makes him effective as an ODI bowler is his array of change-ups. But India’s batsmen pick those variations far better than any other side, which is why Faulkner has such a bad bowling record against them – 17 wickets at an average of 47 and a sky-high economy rate of 6.58rpo.

    Yesterday Faulkner proved a liability with the ball once more, giving up 67 from his ten overs, while Australia’s other three quicks (Cummins, Coulter-Nile and Marcus Stoinis) went at a miserly 4.6 runs per over. That’s despite Faulkner being spared having to bowl at the two Indian batsmen who dominate him more than any other, Kohli and Rohit.

    On the positive side, Australia’s other pacemen did a fine job, with Cummins bowling accurately and unlucky not to take one or two wickets, while Stoinis again showed he is a hugely-improved bowler. Stoinis only started bowling regularly in domestic cricket three years ago and in that time has progressed from a rank part-timer to a skilful fifth bowler.

    Unusually for someone who doesn’t possess startling speed, Stoinis’ short ball is his greatest weapon. He deploys it sparingly and when it arrives it does so with an extra level of pace which often surprises the batsman. Yesterday he rushed Rohit with a bouncer which was 5kmh faster than any of his previous deliveries in that over, earning a catch in the deep.

    Then he bowled a slower short ball to Kedar Jadhav, who was through his pull shot too early and lobbed a catch to midwicket. Like Coulter-Nile, Stoinis is only in the side due to an injury, with first-choice all-rounder Mitch Marsh unavailable, but is also making the most of his chances.

    This depth bodes well for Australia just over 18 months out from the next World Cup.

    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

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    The Crowd Says (87)

    • September 18th 2017 @ 7:08am
      Rock said | September 18th 2017 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      Thanks for the article Ronan and I mean this with no offence, does anyone even give two hoots about this series?

      I mean really, it’s just a nothing, fill the coffers series they plonked in before the Ashes.

      • September 18th 2017 @ 3:48pm
        Peter said | September 18th 2017 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

        If Australia are playing I give a hoot

      • Roar Guru

        September 18th 2017 @ 4:14pm
        Cadfael said | September 18th 2017 @ 4:14pm | ! Report

        I agree. It wasn’t long ago there was an article about playing in India at this time of the year because of expected rain. The side batting first here had a terrific advantage. To score 162 of 21 at 8 an over is a joke. maybe had we gone into the game with our T20 side it may have made a difference.

    • September 18th 2017 @ 8:22am
      BTS said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

      I care about the series @Rock, not as much as I care about the Ashes but I care.

      I also think it has value beyond a mere coffer filler in that if we did/do well that would stand the confidence of Australian cricketing abroad in better stead than if India wallops Aus. I wonder about some of the selection choices that are being made – Faulkner’s bowling is a liability in India (though his runs at least made the total look better than a complete shambles); Cartwright to open? (wasnt Head a better choice?);…

      • September 21st 2017 @ 3:11pm
        Stephen said | September 21st 2017 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

        For me we need to make two changes, if Faulkner doesn’t pick up his bowling then Stonis for me is our allrounder who we need to backup for future series. We also need khawaja openign instead of Hilton. Khawaja there specially given Finch is injured. Khawaja was last taken out of the NZ one day series in Feb with the excuse by Trevor Hohns that khawaja was focusing on the India series which he didn’t play. Then after that Khawaja was denied even a spot on the champions trophy and for some reason is on the outer even though he is one of the best domestic one day batsman in Australia, an average of above 50 in domestic cricket shows that. A warner, khawaja, smith top 3 would be something. And i respect Cartwright as a allrounder, but how can he possibly open and Khawaja be sitting back home. Ed Cowan made his points on this and i agree with him

        • September 22nd 2017 @ 9:41am
          Ross said | September 22nd 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

          Yeah Cowan was spot on with his comments

    • September 18th 2017 @ 8:28am
      Joe Bell said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      Still not sure why anyone asks that. As a rabid cricket fan, isn’t every game of cricket inherently relevant? Why discount some games just because they aren’t the marquee series. Seems odd to me, people whinging about constant access to the sport they supposedly love…

      • September 18th 2017 @ 8:43am
        Don Freo said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

        It’s because they don’t love cricket that they ask that.

        It’s a game of cricket, Rock. That’s enough for those who love the game. In fact, I’d argue a “series” is not overly important at all. It’s the playing itself. A day’s play in a Shield Match is interesting in its own right.

        I’ve been hanging out for this series to start. There are 4 West Aussies on tour.

      • September 18th 2017 @ 8:48am
        doogs said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:48am | ! Report

        i agree. I just love sport. Particularly cricket and league. We have been very competitive in Asia this year. Aussies just expect their teams to win everything and whine when they don’t. If we do well in this series I will be pleasantly surprised. If we do not, then I can cop that. I find our self-entitled moaning a real turn off from this and other forums.

      • September 18th 2017 @ 11:13am
        rock86 said | September 18th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        How is this not a valid question.

        I love cricket and will probably watch one or two of these matches, but that still doesn’t negate the fact this series is a joke in the grand scheme of things. Why have we gone to India to play a worthless 5 match ODI series, when we could have actually had a proper series against Bangladesh rather then the 2 token test matches?

        The reason, this series is nothing but a coffer filler.

        • September 18th 2017 @ 12:20pm
          Ouch said | September 18th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

          I’m with you Rock. This series is irrelevant and nothing more than a money grab.

          I doubt anyone will be too pleased if Cummins, Warner or Smith get injured and miss the Ashes because they played in this series. No-one will even remember this series in 6 months, let alone who won.

          Must be quite a few innings since kohli has scored more than 20 against Australia.

        • September 18th 2017 @ 1:40pm
          Don Freo said | September 18th 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

          A “coffer filler”? Well, there’s a valid reason for you Rock.

          • September 18th 2017 @ 5:21pm
            rock86 said | September 18th 2017 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

            With $120m in the bank, it would already seem the coffers are pretty full!!!

      • Roar Guru

        September 18th 2017 @ 1:17pm
        The Bush said | September 18th 2017 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

        For mine, I just worry that all these games mean our best players, especially test players, don’t get enough time to play domestic cricket or participate in proper tour schedules.

        So it’s not that I have an issue with this series being on (or cricket being on 24/7), it’s that I have an issue with players like Smith, Warner et al not having enough time to play domestic cricket.

        This entire squad will miss the first few rounds of the Domestic ODI tournament at a minimum and if you’re playing the T20s after this (again presumably this is Warner and Smith for example, likely Cummins as well), you’ll actually end up missing the entire tournament. The tournament is already so devalued, it can’t afford to lose our stars as well. How are the next generation of champions meant to emerge if they’re not playing against the best? If you need an example of how this works in the long run, see the Sheffield Shield… And I haven’t even mentioned how annoyed everyone will be if Cummins breaks down playing this, instead of having some time off and then a proper pre-season ahead of what is due to be his biggest summer of cricket ever.

      • September 19th 2017 @ 2:36pm
        Tock said | September 19th 2017 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

        Dead right Joe
        Australia playing India will always get me watching

    • September 18th 2017 @ 8:28am
      Joe Bell said | September 18th 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      Still not sure why anyone asks that. As a rabid cricket fan, isn’t every game of cricket inherently relevant? Why discount some games just because they aren’t the marquee series. Seems odd to me, people whinging about constant access to the sport they supposedly love…

    • September 18th 2017 @ 9:03am
      Roundman said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      I can not understand why it is that India scored 281 from 50 overs, average 5.62 runs per over. Down comes th rain and the match is shortened to 23 overs. Why wasn’t Australia’s target score 130 ???????

      • Roar Guru

        September 18th 2017 @ 9:13am
        Anindya Dutta said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        Because of two wonderfully creative men called Duckworth & Lewis ?

      • September 18th 2017 @ 10:33am
        rtp said | September 18th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

        because it is much easier to score at 5.6 runs an over for 10 overs than it is to score at that rate for 100 overs due to losing wickets along the way.

        I would have thought that obvious.

        I believe that D&L ran a regression over thousands of ODIs and used that to ascertain the *expected* score a team would get when they were at any particular score at any particular over (eg if you are 0-90 or 1-100 or 2-112 etc after twenty overs the average of all teams first inninngs scores when they make it to that position is, say, 310). Of course we extrapolate backwards for the second innings team so if the first team makes 310 and the second team is only going to get 20 overs then they will need to be 0-91 or 1-101 and so forth.

    • Roar Guru

      September 18th 2017 @ 9:18am
      Anindya Dutta said | September 18th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      Good wrap up Ronan. Coulter-Nile really bowled well. Cummings was good indeed. I am happy Pandya demonstrated the unbelievable clean hitting he is capable of and his 83 in 60 odd balls was precious for India. But you missed out MS Dhoni’s comtribution. Coming in at the fall of early wickets he played a gem of an innings with huge hits at the end, without which India would have come nowehere near the Aussie total.

      • Columnist

        September 18th 2017 @ 5:31pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2017 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

        Absolutely Anindya, Dhoni deserves a mention he played a fantastic anchor role which allowed Pandya to unleash.

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