Team India did not really have a great 2015 as far as limited-over cricket is concerned. A semi-finals appearance in the ICC Cricket World Cup was uplifting but their efforts tumbled after the show against minnows Bangladesh and the touring South Africans. The Australian tour started upside down but the Men in Blue came back strongly, ending the campaign by winning the last four games on the trot.
Closer than it seemed
It would have been immensely discouraging for the billions back home to digest four successive defeats against the mighty Australians. But it was closer than the scoreline suggested. India scored 300 in nearly every game, with its top-order clicking every time. All it needed was some disciplined bowling, which blossomed in the T20I series. "We have closed the series really well," skipper MS Dhoni summed up. "Especially from the Sydney ODI, the bowlers have turned it around."
The game is never over
Murmurs about Dhoni's captaincy skills, bowlers' ability to take wickets and stop runs, woes with finishing the games resurfaced once India lost the ODI series. But then, Dhoni is known to spring surprises. The way he and his troops bounced back in the later part of the tour Down Under was astonishing.
Preparation key, now and for the future
To beat the Aussies in their own backyard, not once but three times convincingly, says a lot about the team's preparations for the coming ICC World Twenty20. Whether it be setting a target or chasing a mammoth total, India's batsmen delivered. The team benefitted with the new-look fast bowling options which was a blend of youth and experience along with the ever reliable Jadeja-Ashwin combo which troubled the Australian batters throughout the T20I series. With an extra fielder outside, Dhoni found his Midas touch and was at his best in setting the fields and making the bowling changes which played its part in the 3-0 thrashing of the Kangaroos.
The game changers
Suresh Raina played his part in two of India’s triumphs in the T20I series. Both his innings were contrasting. In the first game, he played a sidekick to the dominant Kohli whereas in the final match he took the onus upon himself and took India through to complete the sweep. Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah were amazing additions to the team, especially Bumrah who delivered yorkers, a skill not found often in Indian pacers. No doubt, the captain called him the 'find' of the tour. Yuvraj Singh's last over heroics showed the world that there's plenty of cricket left in him.
The ever-consistent duo
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli: these two talented young Indians made tons of runs and caused mayhem on Aussie pitches. Rohit Sharma was at his scintillating best scoring three half-centuries (including a 99) and two centuries in eight outings! At times, he was just unstoppable and played a big part in every match to set up a huge score for the team. As far as Kohli is concerned, there’s no denying the fact that he has started his transition from being a talented young man to one of the best to be playing the game. He failed in only one of the eight outings and scored at least a 50 on all other occasions. The Test captain did nothing wrong in Australia and has started 2016 on a high! With these two around, the future surely looks bright for Team India.