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The Liebke Ratings: India vs Australia, first ODI

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5 days ago
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As always, the end of the Tests means a series of one day internationals for the Australian cricket team. India were the opponents this time around, taking the long flight to Mumbai, which is presumably a town in Far North Queensland, to take on the Aussies.

Here are the ratings for the first ODI between India and Australia.

Buzz
Grade: D

The buzz for this series was tremendous. Everywhere I went in the days leading up to it, people were taking me aside, eager to chat about this mid-January tour of India to play an ODI series where matches would finish at 3am and only be shown on Foxtel.

Kids, especially, were gripped by the prospect of being able to watch their heroes for as many as seven or eight overs before being sent to bed. What would happen while they were asleep? With so little information about the trajectory of the game, they could literally dream up any possibility for the match outcome.

Older kids who were allowed to stay up and watch more of the match would, like children for generations before them, have time in the innings break to rush into the backyard, scare off any nocturnal animals who might be about, rig up some lighting and have a quick hit in their pyjamas before play resumed.

Isn’t that what we all want out of an Australian summer?

David Warner bats against India

(AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

The Big Bash
Grade: B-

The Australian squad had moved on from some of their long-time one day players, looking to try some new faces with a fresh World Cup cycle beginning. To the consternation of many, Glenn Maxwell, Mitch Marsh and Marcus Stoinis had been left back in Australia to play the Big Bash.

The “many” in that previous sentence being, of course, all the other players in the Big Bash who were forced to deal with those players’ frustrations as they smashed the bejeezus out of everything.

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Why, even AB de Villiers seemed to be annoyed at not being part of the Australian side, showing up in the game before this first ODI to effortlessly dominate the Adelaide Strikers.

AB de Villiers of the Heat plays a shot

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Charts
Grade: C+

Australia won the toss and elected to bowl. Marnus Labuschagne was given his first ODI cap by Steve Waugh, who also gave him a very long speech about, presumably, the importance of not losing it and which way he should wear it on his head if he wanted to look smart.

(Look, I don’t know if Steve Waugh is a grumpy old retiree, fed up and confused by what the younglings get up to these days. But I don’t know that he’s not either. So, I’m going to assume he’s exasperated by modern-day cricketers until somebody proves otherwise.)

Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins opened the bowling for Australia, putting India under immediate pressure. Unsurprisingly, given that Cummins is the number one Test bowler in the world and Starc has one of the greatest strike rates of all time.

In fact, at one point, Michael Slater in commentary reacted in awe to a chart of Starc’s strike rate against all countries. Starc’s numbers, Slater revealed, were ‘off the charts’.

Now, I hate* to be a pedant, but a strike rate is a number where the smaller it is the better. Furthermore, it’s capped on the downside at a minimum value of 1.00. No matter how good his numbers are, they simply can’t go off the chart.

Sigh. For that matter, even numbers that increase shouldn’t go off the chart. Remember, people, you can always extend the axes.

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Bowling units
Grade: B+

Nevertheless, after Starc’s early wicket of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul put on a century partnership.

Just as things began to look perilous for Australia, however, wickets began to fall, triggered by the insertion into the attack of (checks notes) Ashton Agar.

Agar got rid of Rahul, Cummins accounted for Dhawan and Adam Zampa took a smart caught and bowled amid eerie silence to dismiss Virat Kohli.

Zampa has matured as a bowler, which is good for his cricket, but bad for fans. I remember a time when Adam Zampa would have deflected the straight shot from Kohli onto the stumps with his face. Alas, those days seem to be gone.

With India’s top order ripped out, the Australian bowling unit continued to be relentless, as the home side staggered their way to 255 all out in the final over.

So efficient were Australia in the field that, despite having blown their only review on something stupid early, as per usual, they still managed to appeal long and hard enough to trigger umpire reviews. That’s some elite-level cricket.

Pat Cummins appeals for a wicket

(AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Sleep
Grade: D

By the time Australia came out to bat, the struggle to stay awake was real. It was late on a Tuesday night in the first week back to work for most Australian fans.

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For how long could we watch the chase? Maybe just until they lost their first wicket?

Ha ha ha. Joke’s on you, Australian cricket fan. Because David Warner and Aaron Finch chased down the total singlehandedly (and by singlehandedly, I mean, of course, between the two of them). Both of them racked up centuries as they raced to 0/258 in just the 38th over to give Australia a 1-0 series lead.

More importantly, a strong debut from Marnus at number three, who never looked troubled in his first ODI.