Finch Complains Of The Absence Of Set Race In The Death Overs > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Finch laments absence of set batsman in death overs
Australia failed to finish well in both the defeats in the series
While India and Australia squared off in the series decider at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore, back in Australia, the Big Bash League clash between Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Renegades outrated it, given that it was aired on free-to-air TV. Not many saw the context or the larger picture of a three-match ODI series between the two nations in a year of a T20 WC. So much so that, even the broadcasters back home in Australia gave the BBL precedence, with the India game being telecast only on paid TV.
Although, if there was the question of context at the start, the teams would have changed their minds by now. The spectators even, who were treated to some riveting cricket in the last one week. Australia thumped India in the first ODI in Mumbai after which India bounced back to win two in a row to take the series in the decider in Bangalore. While India's positives begin with KL Rahul's versatility and ended with a recalibration of their style of play, Australia's revolved around two names: Steve Smith and Marnus Labushagne.
Not given a chance to bat in Mumbai when Aaron Finch and David Warner completed a 256-run chase by themselves, Smith and Labuschagne stepped up to lead Australia's charge in Rajkot and Bangalore. In both games, they had to chip in while being under pressure after the failure of the Australian openers. While they succeeded - with big partnerships stands to show for in both games, they couldn't steer Australia towards a win. It exposed a larger malaise in the Australian set-up - the lack of an explosive hitter down the order.
"I think probably guys not getting through to those last couple of overs (hurt us)," said Finch. "I think in the last two games we have had the bowlers batting for the majority of the last few overs. Which we saw in Rajkot, the damage that KL could do in the back end because he was a settled batter. I think that's an area we just missed a couple of tricks. Just not having an in batter being in and having faced 20 or 30 balls to get us deeper and get us to the back end. But credit to India their death bowling in the last few games was exceptional. Shami was nailing his yorkers, Saini in the last two games and Bumrah. In both games they were exceptional. You can look at where we could have improved but also you've got to give some credit to India. They were unbelievable at the death.
"The pitch probably played a little bit slower than we expected. It looked like it was really hard. It was probably just a little on the dry side. But it was a damn good wicket, it probably spun a bit more than we expected it to. But I though all four spinners for the game bowled exceptionally well. A little bit slow with the new ball but it seemed to slip on a bit towards the end there and there was a bit more dew than last night (Friday). It was a good cricket wicket but."
Australia were chasing India's 341 in Rajkot, and after losing Finch and Warner early, Smith and Labuschagne shared a 96-run stand for the third wicket. In Bangalore, batting first, they took that stand further to add 127. While it was a stand that saw off the middle overs with runs trickling in through singles and twos, they failed to find the boundaries consistently enough, driving them into a shell they couldn't break out of eventually. It led Australia to a total of 286, which they couldn't defend.
Labuschagne, on Sunday (January 19), was his usual busy self in the middle, carbon-copying Smith. So similar are their games and mannerisms even, that after Labuschagne defended a ball from Ravindra Jadeja, he swatted his bat across just as Smith does, giving the impression of Smith batting at both ends. They kept India at bay in their stand of 127 that came off 136 balls, but couldn't get any momentum going Australia's way in the lead up to the death overs. Once Labuschagne fell after scoring his maiden ODI fifty in just his second innings, the Australian management promoted Mitchell Starc to five as the pinch-hitter. The experiment lasted three balls without any addition to the scorecard.
"We felt as though it was an aggressive move, especially against the left-arm spin," skipper Finch said. "He can smack a few and if he went out there and hit a couple of sixes, we were hoping it could potentially change their tactics and they would have to bring one of their quicks back earlier. That just didn't happen. Myself and Andrew spoke about it before the first game. We felt as though Mumbai probably wasn't the right surface, but felt here was, especially against Jadeja, the left-arm spinner spinning it into him. He just didn't hit it out of the middle. I still support the move 100 per cent, it just didn't come off today. But it was definitely an aggressive move," he added.
While that may have been an experiment that failed, Labuschagne's transition from the Test level to ODIs was quite seamless. Picked on the back of a year of ample success, where he finished as the leading run-getter in Tests, and a strong domestic record, Labuschagne proved he could be what Australia need to bolster their middle order. Indian captain Virat Kohli too heaped praise on the dynamic youngster who impressed with his composure and ability to wade through the tough waters.
"He's a quality player," said Kohli. "We were talking outside... he's very sure of what he wants to do. Again, body language, intent, he's there, he's running hard between the wickets, he wants the ball, he wants to be in the important positions in the field. I think he's got the right mindset to be a consistent player; to be a top player in the world for a while. He's shown that in Test cricket, he's shown that in one-day cricket, and I'm sure if he plays T20 cricket, he'll show the same clarity there as well. Looks like a complete team man.
"So, against guys like that, you need to have total clarity and not back off, because if a guy brings that kind of clarity, it can really put the bowlers under pressure if you're not up to the mark. With guys like that, I think, it's about who loses patience first. If you give him a window, he can take the game away from you. He's always energetic - I really don't know where he gets that energy from. He's like a bunny running around. It looks like he's just happy playing international cricket and he's relishing the opportunity to play for Australia."
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