Usman Khawaja could be in doubt to play the first Ashes Test after being left out of the 24-man group for the Australia vs Australia A match starting Tuesday, the final game before the Ashes.
Although played over 9000 kilometres and 43 days apart, the one-day internationals between Australia and India in Melbourne and Hyderabad provided striking similarities.
This February Australia started their tour of India promisingly by winning both the thrilling T20s in the last over. Was this the beginning of a new era for Australian cricket after losing convincingly to India in Australia?
Not quite. In the first ODI at Hyderabad on 2 March India defeated Australia by six wickets to lead the five-match series 1-0. This match was almost a mirror image of India’s victory against Australia in Melbourne on 18 January.
In reply to Australia’s 230 – Peter Handscomb 58, leg-break googly bowler Yuzvendra Chahal six for 42 – India was 3-113 when Kedar Jadhav joined MS Dhoni in the Melbourne ODI.
Dhoni started slowly, refusing to accelerate until the last three overs. With Kedar Jadhav (61 not out with seven fours) as his partner, Dhoni (87 not out with six fours) added 121 runs for the unbroken fourth wicket and India won the match by seven wickets with four balls remaining and the ODI series 2-1.
This Saturday night in the Hyderabad ODI it was the same scenario. Call it deja vu. In reply to Australia’s seven for 236 (Usman Khawaja 50) India was tottering at four for 99.
At that stage Kedar Jadhav joined Dhoni and progressed slowly but accelerated as they approached the target. They added 141 runs for the unbroken fifth wicket and India triumphed by six wickets with ten balls in hand. Dhoni scored an unbeaten 59 with six fours and a six and Kedar an unbeaten 81 with nine fours and a six.
Swashbuckling Dhoni of previous years has mutated into a calculating MS. No helicopter swings these days; only a champion racehorse Winx-like last-minute gallop to win.
The second ODI will be played in Nagpur on Tuesday, 5 March. The five-ODI series ends in Delhi on 13 March.
More sleepless nights for cricket lovers Down Under! Also, Oz supporters will have more sleepless nights thinking of a replacement for out-of-form opening batsman Aaron Finch.