Ashwin says India will start afresh in the tournament, heaps praise on Dinesh Karthik, Umesh Yadav
When the Indians slumped to 55 for 5 at the start of the 17th over, even 200 looked unlikely. Instead, with Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni plundering 211 from 191 balls, India romped to a 243-run win against Australia, courtesy an outstanding new-ball spell from Umesh Yadav.
Yadav was outstanding in the Test win over England at Ahmedabad last November, but he hasn’t played for India since, recuperating from a stress-related back injury. Even though this was only a warm-up, there was no sense of holding back, and his extra pace induced a succession of false strokes from batsmen who were often far too late on the pull.
“There was a little bit of swing, but nothing unplayable,” said George Bailey, who captained the Australians in Michael Clarke’s absence. “It’s a lesson for us on what two new balls are capable of. We’ll probably need to be a bit more patient than we’re used to in the early overs in one-day cricket.”
After a comfortable win over the West Indies in its first warm-up, this was a particularly rude wake-up call for Australia, who will start its defence of the title against England at Edgbaston on Saturday (June 8). “It’s not ideal,” said Bailey with a rueful smile. “Even if it’s practice, you don’t ever want to have a game like that.”
The main story from the Australian camp continued to be Clarke’s fitness woes. The Ashes start less than five weeks from today and having missed the final Test against India in March, Clarke’s struggles are an unwelcome distraction for a team that’s found it hard to fill the middle-order voids left by the retirements of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey. Bailey pronounced himself ready to lead if needed, but was hopeful that it wouldn’t come to that.
“There’s a reasonably big summer of cricket coming up after this,” he said tongue firmly in cheek. “No doubt he’s our best batsman. But if you ask me, I think Pup’s ready to go Saturday.”
R Ashwin, who was thrown the ball only in the 22nd over, didn’t make too much of the win – “It’s good to get the best out of it [practice match], but day after, when we start again, it won’t count for anything” – but was especially pleased with the performances of Yadav and Karthik.
“He adds an extra bit of sting to our pace attack,” he said of Yadav. As for Karthik, his teammate in the Tamil Nadu Ranji Trophy team, he said: “He’s hitting it clean, going through quite a purple patch right now. I hope he can make a hundred every game!”
There was also acknowledgement that his role in the tournament was likely to be far more peripheral than it is back home, when he’s often called on to bowl with the ball hard and new. “As long as the pace bowlers are taking enough wickets, it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “It’s a team game.”
The Indians stuttered badly at the start of each batting innings in the warm-up games, and Ashwin admitted that the approach would probably change once the tournament started. “We’ll need to be a bit more cautious in the opening overs,” he said. “The coach has mentioned a few things based on his experience of English conditions.”
Dhoni may not have found the River Taff in the manner of a Clive Lloyd or Vivian Richards, but his 77-ball 91 was yet another reminder of the batting depth that’s likely to be India’s trump card in a competition where the two new balls could do immense damage. As for Karthik, he’s now a shoo-in to play against South Africa, leaving the likes of Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina to fight for the remaining spots.