In what was a rather surprising and unpleasant reality check for the Indian cricket team, the Aussies beat them by 34 runs yesterday at the Sydney Cricket Ground. While the Australian bowlers deserve a lot of credit for their attack, it can be agreed that it wasn't the brightest of days for the Indian batting side.
Despite Rohit Sharma's phenomenal 133 in the first match since the cricketer became a father, the team could not get over their long daunting woes of a good opening partnership as Shikhar Dhawan quickly went back to the locker room on duck after the umpire raised the finger to Aussie bowler Jason Behrendorff's LBW appeal.
January 12, 2019
After skipper Virat Kohli and Ambati Rayudu were unable to make good on their time at the pitch, MS Dhoni's 51 run performance led to him scoring 10,000 ODI runs for team India. But in an unfortunate series of events, Dhoni had to leave the pitch on a questionable LBW call made by the umpire which the former captain could not challenge as they were out of reviews.
“When it rains, it pours.”
Dhoni's departure was a sign that this match was out of reach for Kohli's boys as there was no other batsman that was aware of the conditions in Sydney or had enough experience in India's recent trips Down Under against an almost new Australian side. Or, was there?
After Kohli's middle order failed to provide during the first ODI, former Man in Blue, and top spinner, Harbhajan Singh raised his support for the in-form batsman and Australia's new mascot for sledging, Rishabh Pant, who's not only had an exceptional game in the last Test at SCG, but is also hungry to prove his worth in the 50-over format in order to get selected for the 2019 ICC World Cup, to be included in the roster for the next match at the Adelaide Oval.
“Rishabh Pant has that X-factor in him, which Adam Gilchrist had. He has the potential to hit six sixes…I am not talking about six sixes in an over but if he plays 30 balls he has the ability to hit at least six sixes, which can be game-changing,” Harbhajan advocated Pant's role to India Today.
In the recent occurrences during which Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul have been suspended for two games, it would be an option worth considering taking up Rishabh Pant instead of adding new players like Vijay Shankar and Shubman Gill.