India were handed a proper thrashing by Australia at Mumbai as they lost by 10 wickets in the opening game of the three-match ODI series. On paper, India's poor middle-order batting, Australia's ruthless openers and India's expensive bowlers cost the game for the hosts. But let us dig a bit deeper.
India fell into a hole they dug for themselves when they made a few selection calls that were mind-boggling, to say the least. Navdeep Saini was benched to accommodate Shardul Thakur and Yuzvendra Chahal was meted out for the same treatment to play Kuldeep Yadav, who has a significantly poor record against the Aussies compared to Chahal.
By messing up the batting order further, India were already at a disadvantage. KL Rahul was pushed to no 3 with Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan opening the innings. Virat Kohli moved to no 4 in the line-up only to walk in during the 28th over, with the team playing at a run-rate of less than 5 per over.
All of this played into Australia's hands but it wasn't like Aaron Finch didn't use his own tactical nous to further push India into the abyss. At 127/2, India were still poised to put on a 300-plus total given that's the template they generally follow.
But with Kohli new to the crease, Australia knew they had an opening.
As soon as Kohli walked in, Finch brought his strike bowler back to the attack. Pat Cummins bowled full and wide outside the off-stump to confuse Kohli. He didn't dismiss Kohli, but Dhawan was trapped in the confusion and spooned a catch.
With Kohli still out there, Finch now turned to Zampa, who had dismissed him five times before across formats. Once Kohli was sent back by the leggie, Finch turned to Starc to rattle Shreyas Iyer and the left-arm pacer ruffled him with a bouncer before a full ball dismissed the middle-order batsman.
India lost four wickets in those 20 balls with Finch being the mastermind behind the collapse. He rotated his bowlers thrice in the six overs to trigger the collapse. Finch never allowed India to dominate and the trend continued in the batting innings.
Finch got Australia off to a flier by attacking the off-side region by staying on the leg-side of the ball. It allowed David Warner to settle in at the wicket and then go for his shots. At the end of the seventh over, Warner was on 11 off 18 balls while Finch raced to 31 in 24 balls. It paved way for the mammoth stand where Warner later took the center stage.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Punit Paranjpe