Aaron Finch’s rapidfire century had Australia cruising and his 154 run stand with Steve Smith was taking the visitors towards a 300-320 total at least. But could muster just 293 at the end.
Australia, once the most successful 50-over side, are on a terrible run of form in the past 12 months. Their five-wicket defeat to India on Sunday in Indore was the 11th loss in past 13 one-day internationals away from home. And the two they didn’t lose were rain-affected no results. During this period, Australia have been thrashed 5-0 by South Africa, lost to New Zealand and now have already conceded the series to India. Frustratingly for Australia and skipper Steve Smith, though, the outcome could have been far different in Indore.
Aaron Finch’s rapidfire century had Australia cruising and his 154 run stand with Steve Smith for the third wicket was taking the visitors towards a 300-320 total at least. However, following their dismissals, India contained the flow of runs while chipping away at wickets to restrict Australia to 293.
“I probably thought our first probably 38 overs with the bat was very good,” Smith said. “That was kind of the template we were trying to set. Two guys in the top four going on – one guy to get a hundred obviously, and the others bat around. We just weren’t able to execute it in the back end. I think that was probably… we got 69 off last 74 balls lost 5 wickets. If we got to 330-340, which we probably should have done, things certainly could have been different.”
“It’s been a bit of a trend for this format and the Test format as well. We’re quite often getting ourselves into good positions and we’re not taking advantage of those and today was no different. We continually address it and it’s just hard to put the finger on exactly what it is we’re doing or not doing to get the results we’re after. It’s a different format but I’d certainly like to start winning some games of cricket in every format, to be honest. Our results haven’t been good enough and we need to turn them around,” he added.
Personally for Smith, his fielding ability has been a let down as well. The Australian skipper, who put down Rohit Sharma in Chennai in the first ODI and then Bhuvneshwar Kumar in Kolkata in the second ODI, dropped Man of the Match Hardik Pandya at crucial juncture of the chase in Indore. At the time, India needed 77 to win off 79 with the game still evenly balanced. Smith’s drop allowed Pandya, then on 41, to score a 72-ball 78 and take India closer to the series win.
“At the moment, my catching hasn’t been good enough,” Smith lamented. “I think I’ve dropped one in every game I’ve played so far [in this series]. I’ve been working hard, just might need to work a little bit harder to try and set the standard. It went in the air and was swirling a little bit, a fair bit of spin on the ball. I expect myself to take those chances. If I get my hands to the ball, I expect to catch them.”
Smith was all praise for Finch who returned from injury and scored 124 runs while taking the attack to Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav – who had proven to be a menace for the Australian batting in the first two ODIs. “I thought he played really well today,” Smith said. “Summed things up early, understood the pace of the wicket, played his big shots at the right time, made some good decision. We’ve been talking about it as a batting group, we’ve been having a lot of those collapses in the middle overs. I thought the decisions he made throughout his innings wereSmith bemoans Australia’s failure to cash in on ‘batting template’ very good – keep the right balls out, attack the spinners. It was just a well-paced innings. It’s nice to see him back.”
With the remaining two games of the series – in Bengaluru and Nagpur – reduced to dead games, Smith maintained that the team would want to win and get some momentum going into the home Ashes in November. “It’s always hard when you lose. Particularly when you’re down three-nil at the moment. We’ve got to continue to try and motivate the players and get them up for the next two games. We’ve got to start winning games of cricket. I think we’ve lost 13 of the last 15 games we’ve played away with two being no results. That’s pretty ordinary. Not good enough for an Australian cricket. We need to start turning the results around and winning some games of cricket.
“It’s a different format [the Ashes] but I’ll certainly like to start winning some games of cricket in every format to be honest. Our results haven’t been good enough and we need to turn them around,” Smith stated.
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