India crashed to a massive 10 wicket loss to Australia in the first One Day International at Mumbai in the three-match series. India batted first and scored 255 before getting bowled out by the Aussie bowling attack. Australian openers mercilessly attacked Ravindra Jadeja and others, winning the match with no loss. David Warner scored 128 Not Out while T20 International skipper Aaron Finch remained not out for 110. The loss is certainly a moment of self-examination of the star-studded Indian team under the leadership of Virat Kohli.
The number 4 position has remained as a thorn in the otherwise perfect Indian Team. Numerous batsmen have been used in the position over the past few years, but none amongst them has consistently proved his worth to warrant a constant spot in the One Day International team. In the latest match, Virat Kohli decided to bring himself to the number 4 decision, sending KL Rahul to number 3 instead. The result was a failure. While Rahul got out for a respectable 41, Kohli suffered a lack of form and was dismissed for 16.
Kohli defended his decision, for which he is receiving quite some criticism from the Indian fans, by claiming that he has the right to ‘experiment’ a bit. “We’ve had this discussion many times in the past as well, due to the way KL has been batting. We’ve tried to fit him into the team. Having said that, it hasn’t gone our way when I have batted at No. 4, so we have to see how it goes. At the same time, it’s about giving opportunities to the other guys. People need to relax and not panic for just this one game. I think I am allowed to experiment a bit,” Kohli stated in the post-match presentation.
While it would have been a managable experiment some months ago, it felt strange due to two reasons. One, Shreyas Iyer have actually been playing well as the number 4, the only one to be remotely consistent after Ajinkya Rahane a few years ago. Two, the opponent was a full-strength Aussie brigade.
Kohli had to admit the strength of his opponents. “We were totally outplayed in all departments. It’s a strong Australian team, if you don’t play well, they could hurt you. We saw that with the bat in hand. We didn’t get enough runs. I thought we were too respectful at certain phases and it cost us. Can’t do that against a team like Australia.”