India vs Australia: Three mistakes Kohli made as a captain in ODI series

India's Virat Kohli congratulates Australia's Aaron Finch, right, after the match between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Photo: AP | PTI
Indian cricket team failed to make an impression in its first series, after the Covid-19 forced break, which raised some questions about squad selection and hence the final playing eleven. After the first match, Kohli said that India did not have any all-rounder in the ODI squad and the sixth bowling option has to come from within the team.


In fact, the lack of a sixth bowling option is not a new problem for India in 50-over cricket. During India’s tour of New Zealand in February this year, India lost the series 3-0 and now Indian team management have to go a long way in fixing the issue.


Moreover, India is staring a series whitewash in a day's time, when it will lock horns for the third and final ODI match of the series against Australia at Canberra on Wednesday. Though, India’s lacklustre performance cannot be attributed to only one reason, Virat Kohli’s bad decisions on and off the field should also share the blame. Going with the same set for players after a loss in the first ODI did not help the Indian captain in the second one.

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And it seemed Kohli has not had any specific plan against the opposition batsmen in comparison to Australian bowlers, who peppered Indians with short deliveries and sent them back to the pavilion. 

India former captain Gautam Gambhir has pointed out one of Kohli’s tactical blunder after the second ODI.


"I find it difficult to comprehend that if you have a bowler of Jasprit Bumrah's calibre and you give him only two overs upfront. It's not a tactical mistake but a tactical blunder," Gambhir said in ESPNCricinfo's show.


Gambhir, who has been pretty critical of Kohli's tactical acumen as captain, felt that the difference between the two sides so far, was how Australian captain Aaron Finch handled his most successful pacer Josh Hazlewood in the first two ODIs that the hosts won easily.

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Here are three other tactical mistakes that Kohli made in ODI series as a captain:


Navdeep Saini and Virat Kohli. Photo: @BCCI
Persisting with Navdeep Saini


Kohli backed his IPL teammate Navdeep Saini after the latter conceded 83 runs in the first ODI of three-match series. Saini failed to make any impression in the second ODI too as Australian batsmen smoked him all round the park. The lanky pacer lacked the skills to counter the Australian onslaught and conceded 70 runs at an economy rate of 10 runs per over in the second match. Hardik Pandya, who tried to fill in Saini’s overs, deployed cutters and slow deliveries to check the flow of runs and provided a template to other bowlers on how to bowl on the SCG’s wicket.


So, Kohli could have replaced Saini with Shardul Thakur for the second ODI given the latter has more variations in his arsenal. Thakur has a knack of picking wickets with his variations, which could have been a useful weapon against Australia.


The Australian captain Aaron Finch admitted after the match that his bowlers used cutters against team India.

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Kuldeep Yadav better option than out of form Chahal


Kohli made another tactical mistake by persisting with wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. The leggie did not earn any respect from Australians and failed to pick wickets in the middle overs. Kohli could have rested Chahal to give him time to get back in form. Kuldeep Yadav could have replaced Chahal as he troubled the Australians in the past with his variations.


Not using pinch hitter during a tall chase


The Indian openers, Mayank Agarwal and Shikhar Dhawan, have provided good starts while chasing a big total in both the ODIs but after their dismissals the run rate took a hit. A pinch hitter at number three would have given Kohli more time to pace his innings and thus maintaining the required rate pressure.

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