Gillette ODI Series v India
Langer sees gains from defeat's pain
Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni provide valuable lessons for inexperienced Aussies
Andrew Ramsey at the Adelaide Oval
16 January 2019, 11:16 AM AEST
It was less than half an hour after his team had seen their hard-earned total chased down by a run chase of rare poise and precision, but Justin Langer could not stop himself from smiling.
Not through gritted teeth, as would be reasonably expected of such a proudly competitive Australia cricketer and coach who was surely stung by the manner in which India had surged home to claim victory with four balls of the 50th over to spare.
Langer’s grin was, instead, that of a genuine cricket fan who had watched, enthralled, over the preceding hours as his team of comparatively inexperienced combatants were gradually reeled in, and then overwhelmed by a pair of the game’s all-time greats.
And while the sting of defeat still burned, as will always be the case for a product of one of Australia cricket’s most successful epochs, Langer took greater pleasure from the spectacle that had unfolded and for the lessons it contained.
“It’s incredible experience for our team to play against India,” Langer conceded, his eyes burning bright with the inspiration he had gleaned watching India pair Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni guide their nation home as they have done so many times previously.
“To watch Virat and then MS do what he did at the end, it’s just a brilliant tutorial for our young batters.
“Class always comes to the top, so we must respect that.
“The way that Virat and MS batted today – you hate losing, but when you see that it’s amazing and it’s why they’re such great players.
“We’ll gain great experience from it, and in big tournaments like the World Cup (starting in the UK next June), I like to see our guys under pressure like they were tonight.
“We’ll be much better for the experience, and it’s still one-all in the series so that means it’s alive and well.”
The result means the three-match Gillette Series will be decided at the MCG on Friday, where Australia’s hopes of securing their first ODI trophy win in two years remains afloat.
Even if the spirits of India’s higher-ranked, more experienced outfit are now inestimably buoyed by having posted the second-highest successful ODI run chase at Adelaide Oval, on the back of Kohli’s peerless 104.
The fact that the India captain now boasts almost twice as many ODI hundreds to his name (39) as the current iteration of Australia’s one-day team have managed between them (20) is stark statistical proof of the gulf in experience and expertise that exists.
But Australia can point to having a batter in similarly irresistible form as India’s captain, with veteran Shaun Marsh (at 35, two years Dhoni’s junior) able to point to a recent run that shows four centuries from his past eight ODI outings.
“He’s turning into a great one-day international player,” Langer said of his fellow Western Australian, in whom he has invested significant love and energy which continues to be repaid.
“I’m also really proud of the way (he’s responded) after not being selected for the next Test series against Sri Lanka.
“With that pressure, a lot of guys can shrivel up, but he hasn’t, he’s stood tall.
“He’s working really hard, he’s had a couple of good innings now.
“I’m really proud of Shaun, he’ll be a big part of our World Cup campaign.
“He’s a leader of our group.
“He’s such a terrific person around the group, he’s an ultra-professional.
“Every time he walks to the wicket, whether it’s in a red-ball or white-ball (cricket), we just all want him to do well because he’s such a good person.”
While Marsh enjoys a purple patch of a slow-burn white-ball career that has seen him play just 62 one-day internationals since his first in 2008 – two months before the ODI debut of Kohli, who has played 218 – his current captain Aaron Finch finds himself at the opposite end of the form continuum.
Finch was bowled for six in Australia’s loss, his fifth score below 25 in his past six ODIs and the fourth time he’s had his stumps rattled - albeit via an inside edge this time.
That follows a run of outs in the Test arena to which he graduated last October, which resulted in him losing him place for the final Test against India earlier this month.
But rather than outwardly fret when asked for thoughts regarding his white-ball skipper’s recent returns, Langer again unveiled a knowing smile and aired his deep-held belief that each step of Finch’s currently lean journey carries him closer to a corner.
The one that waits to be turned.
“There’s not a lot of players who play all three forms of the game now,” Langer said of his fellow member of the tightly knit opening batters’ club.
“This is brand new territory for him.
“He’s playing all three forms of the game, he’s also captain of the white ball teams, playing Test cricket.
“He won’t be far off. When he gets going, he scores hundreds.
“He’s working so hard on it, he just needs a few breaks.
“Every now and then you need a little break, and he’ll be away again.”
Gillette ODI Series v India
Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Peter Siddle, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa
India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj
First ODI: Australia won by 34 runs
Second ODI: India win by six wickets
Third ODI: January 18, MCG (D/N)