India crashed to a humbling defeat against England in the third match of the tri-series. Batting first, India scored just 153 as James Anderson and Steve Finn ran riot. In reply, England took just 27.3 to wrap up a nine-wicket win and claim the bonus point as well.
Here are our three takeaways from the match:
Dhoni's toss issues
India won the toss today and elected to bat first. The Brisbane wicket looked like one that had pace and bounce -- more than the wicket that the first Test was played on. India were missing Rohit Sharma, who was ruled out of the match with a sore hamstring. Shikhar Dhawan has looked out of sorts as well and England's bowling attack did have a certain James Anderson in the line-up. Yet, Dhoni chose to bat first. It was a strange decision -- especially because this is an Indian team that likes to chase down targets. Dhoni and Kohli know how to plan a chase well and bowling first would have also ensured that there was less pressure on them.
India also won the toss in the first ODI and elected to bat. There Mitchell Starc did us in with one wicket in the first over and today, Anderson struck early. Is first use of the wicket an advantage that India is willfully and maybe foolishly squandering?
If this is a strategy to prepare the team for the World Cup -- then perhaps it still makes sense but winning is important as well. If India go into the World Cup low on confidence, that won't help matters much.
Stuart Binny should not be the last option
India has to stop using Binny as a last resort. Dhoni (as also Ravi Shastri in his intervew after the final Test) has forever been harping on the fact that India don't have a pace bowling allrounder and now that he has one (who is admittedly not in the class of a Jacques Kallis or a Garry Sobers), he should at least give him a proper chance to show how good he can be. Binny top-scored with 44, prevented India from being bowled out for less than 100, and then took the new ball to return figures of 7-0-34-1 (the only wicket-taker and the second-best ER).
India need to give Binny as many chances as possible before the World Cup begins. If Binny perform consistently like he did today, he could turn out be vital to the side because of the balance he will give lend it. It will also give Binny, who was not part of the Test team, time to get acclimatised to the conditions since India play all but one of their group stage games in Australia.
Over the last few seasons, Binny has been a consistent performer at Ranji and IPL level. It's time Dhoni and the India team management accord him a little more respect.
The Test series had good batting wickets and so India's batting did well, for the most part. The ODI tri-series has wickets with bounce and pace -- India are doing badly. Simple inference... India need wickets that allow them to make the most of their strength - which is batting. It also means that India need flat wickets where making and chasing 300+ totals, as they do back home, is possible.
James Anderson took 4-18 today and Steve Finn claimed 5-33 -- India in comparison managed to take just one wicket. It tells you something -- mainly about the ineffectiveness of our bowlers. It also tells us India's shot-making options leave a lot to be desired. Even after playing in Australia for around two months, the bowlers have still not grasped the ideal line or length to bowl in Australia.
Our bowlers have struggled in the Test series and that is likely to continue in the ODIs as well. In the match against England, Bhuvneshwar was bowling at around 125 km/h, Umesh Yadav managed to get his radar wrong once again and Mohammed Shami inexplicably bowled just four overs. India can't depend on it's bowling and it's only chance of success is backing the batting and hoping that the wickets return to the form we saw in the Test series.