Australia skipper Aaron Finch remaining calm despite miserable batting form

Sport360 staff 16/01/2019
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Finch's batting woes continue unabated.

It has been a season to forget so far with the bat for Aaron Finch but the Australia ODI skipper is trying his utmost best to not let that poor form affect his captaincy on the field.

Finch has been woefully out of form with the bat all Australian summer with his dry patch extending to the ongoing ODI series against India. The right-hander was able to muster only 57 runs from three innings in the recent ODI series loss to South Africa and has been able to add only 12 runs to that tally in the first two matches against India.

Finch had not fared any better in the Test format either and was dropped from the Australia squad after garnering only 97 runs in three matches against India.

The scrutiny on his poor batting form has increased greatly following Australia’s six-wicket loss to India in the second ODI at Adelaide but Finch remains determined to not let it hamper his leadership of the limited-overs squad.

“It’s always tough when you’re not getting runs personally,” the Aussie skipper stated after his side’s loss at Adelaide on Tuesday.

Finch has paled in comparison to his India counterpart Kohli.

Finch has paled in comparison to his India counterpart Kohli.

“Batting’s separate to captaincy and leading out on the field. It’s about everyone trying to learn together and trying to get the best out of the players on the field.

“Obviously that can be a bit easier when you’re scoring runs and leading by example, but there’s other times when it doesn’t always work out for you, so you have to be consistent with your actions and the way that you go about it.”

After being dismissed for six runs in both his innings so far in the ongoing series, Finch will be itching to rediscover his best when Australia take on India in the decider at Melbourne on Friday. The two sides are currently locked at 1-1 in the three-match series with India’s Adelaide win cancelling out Australia’s 34-victory in the opener at Sydney.

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Virat Kohli seeks superpower status for India in Test arena

Sudhir Gupta 16/01/2019
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Kohli seeks further red-ball glory for India.

Virat Kohli and his men might be currently chasing an ODI series win against Australia but it is domination in the Test arena which is the most burning desire for the India skipper.

Earlier this month, Kohli’s men scripted history by becoming the first ever Indian side to win a Test series on Australian soil. Following his side’s 2-1 win over Tim Paine’s men in the four-match series, Kohli had gone as far to hail the victory as more important to him than the 2015 ICC World Cup crown clinched by India.

That historic series win has only served to further whet the appetite for red-ball cricket success for Kohli who is now aiming for an extensive period of India domination in the Test format.

“I wouldn’t say goal but I would rather speak of a vision, which is for India to be a superpower in Test cricket or a very, very strong side in Test cricket in the years to come,” Kohli told Star Sports in an interview.

“I think if Indian cricket respects Test cricket, and Indian players respect Test cricket, then Test cricket will stay at the top because of the fan base that we have all over the world.

Test success remains the most important for Kohli.

Test success remains the most important for Kohli.

“If we focus too much on shorter formats – yes, they’re important – but if we solely focus and look at them as an escape or an excuse to not be in the kind of situations that Test cricket presents to you, then there’ll start being a mental problem with the cricketers coming up.”

The win over Australia strengthened India’s grip at the top of the Test rankings table with Kohli himself cementing his position as the number one batsman in the world. The 29-year-old superstar now wants the existing team culture to be passed on to future generations of India’s Test setup.

“As long as you’re willing to wake up every morning for five days and do the hard yards and go do the dirty work – if you’re willing to bat for two hours and not score a run for the team – that is what people should prepare (for),” Kohli stated.

“That will require the team to lay out certain things that needs to be done and for the next lot to keep following. So, the next lot that comes in, they have to maintain that vision and then the people coming in will follow.

“I hope that continues and I will try my level best for as long as I can to keep that culture going.”

For now, Kohli will turn his immediate attention to the ODI series decider against Australia with the team teams currently locked at 1-1. The third and final match of the series will take place at Melbourne on Friday.

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In-form Dinesh Karthik will be great news for MS Dhoni the batsman

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Dinesh Karthik (l) with MS Dhoni.

In IPL 2018, we saw the version of MS Dhoni that once sent a chill down the spine of bowlers.

The Dhoni who led Chennai Super Kings to an emotional title win was a man on a mission, batting with total freedom and without a hint of hesitation. It was thought that the swagger that came back into Dhoni’s batting would translate into international cricket as well, as India approached the 2019 World Cup.

But during the Asia Cup in the UAE last year, Dhoni went back into his shell as he consumed ample number of deliveries in pursuit of securing his wicket and taking the innings deep.

That approach was visible in the first ODI against Australia in Sydney where Dhoni – playing his first competitive match after a break of two months – made 51 from 96 balls and couldn’t take India past the finish line as Rohit Sharma’s century went in vain while pursuing 289.

The scenario changed in the second ODI in Adelaide as Dhoni came in at 160-3 with the team chasing 299, and not 4-3 as was the case in the first match.

The veteran keeper could afford to take some time to start and as Kohli took the risk from the other end, all Dhoni did was not consume as many balls as he did in the first match. He ended up hitting the winning six in the final over, finishing with 55 from 54 balls.

That is what Dhoni has turned himself into on international cricket. Right now, he is not the dasher in international cricket that many want him to be, no matter how many glimpses he gives us in IPL.

There is still a vulnerability in the Indian lower order which does not allow Dhoni to play a full-blooded cover drive even off driveable balls from pacers. Dhoni has taken drives almost completely out of his game as he looks to nudge the ball around for singles and plays his attacking shots almost entirely on the leg side.

Even if India end up winning the third ODI in Melbourne, Dhoni might well continue to bat within himself in the absence of substantial contributions from those after him.

Which is why the promise that Dinesh Karthik showed during his 14-ball 25 in the Adelaide ODI is of great significance. Not only in the context of the series and team balance, but also Dhoni’s batting.

In the chase, Karthik came in and played a refreshing innings full of paddle shots and scoops which gave Dhoni the confidence to take the match to the final over and hit the first ball for a six. Once Karthik gets going and plays more match-winning 25s and 30s, as he did in the Nidahas Trophy final against Bangladesh last year, Dhoni and the management will be able to relax because for a long period, numbers six and seven could not be relied for consistent runs.

It is clear Dhoni needs to bat as high as possible because let’s be honest, he still takes 20 balls to get going.

But if batsmen coming after him start to post 15-ball 30s, you will see a different Dhoni. And maybe, the Dhoni we saw in IPL 2018 will make a reappearance at the 2019 World Cup. Glorious.

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