India vs Australia: Series a great learning for us, says Bharat Arun

India needs to work on both its batting and bowling before the World Cup, says the team's bowling coach.

India bowling coach Bharat Arun addresses the media ahead of the final ODI between India and Australia at the Feroz Shah Kotla.   -  SANDEEP SAXENA

The Indian team is a work in progress as it prepares to tighten up before the World Cup, according to Bharat Arun, its bowling coach.

The batting unit has faltered throughout the ongoing One-Day International (ODI) series against Australia — ahead of the contest in Mohali on Sunday, only Virat Kohli, among the top-order batsmen, was among the runs. And when its top-order dazzled, the bowlers were collared.

Ahead of the series decider at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Arun admitted there were “areas” that needed improvement and the fact that difficulties have surfaced just before the World Cup was a “big positive.”

“There are definitely certain areas which we need to address, both in our batting and bowling. I’m sure we really looked hard and I would look at it as a big positive because it’s just before a major tournament like the World Cup. It has shown us the areas where we really need to buck up and really need to tighten up. And I think it’s a great learning for us from the way the series has gone,” he said.

READ: Australia improving consistently, says Alex Carey

One area to tighten would be bowling in the death overs — India’s fast bowlers were profligate as Australia chased down 359 in Mohali on Sunday.

Recognising that the bowlers had faltered, Arun said, “These things to happen, like the last game. I’m happy that it’s happened now because it shows a lot of practice [needs to be done]. It shows the areas where we can improve before a big tournament like the World Cup.”

Commenting on the unit’s inability to contain Ashton Turner, who smashed a match-winning knock of 84, Arun said, “[We] should give credit to the knock that Ashton Turner played. But yes, we had our plans ready, but I’m not trying to give excuses here.

It’s part of the game we have got to accept and try and see how we can overcome these situations. Yes, we did not bowl as well as we had planned for him, but I’m sure we will go a long way from there and come back.”

That Kedar Jadhav has bowled in all the ODIs in the series so far demonstrates India’s regular bowlers haven’t been perfect.

For, as Arun pointed out, “Kedar [Jadhav] has done the job on many occasions. But we keep telling the bowling unit that as long as we don’t let him bowl, you have done a great job. So yes, if necessary, Kedar would come and do the job for us. If not, I think, it is the other five regular bowlers who will be doing the job for the country.”

Bharat praises Shankar

But a silver lining for the team in both of India’s defeats — in Ranchi and in Mohali — was the all-round performance of Vijay Shankar.

Praising him, Arun said, “Vijay [Shankar] has gained in confidence. He batted brilliantly, and position that has been given to him, he has batted [well]. He’s batted at No. 4, and batted No. 6, No. 7. He’s batted really well.

The confidence that he’s gained out of his batting is rubbing on to his bowling as well. The way he started – he was bowling at 121, 125, but today he’s touching 130, and he’s more confident of his bowling. So yes, Vijay Shankar is a huge positive for the team."

All-rounder Vijay Shankar has impressed both skipper Virat Kohli and bowling coach Bharat Arun.   -  VIVEK BENDRE


Arun also reiterated that the team management had been trying out combinations in the playing XI as experiment before the World Cup.

“More or less the team is quite sure of what the combination is. But yes, we would like to try out all our options before the World Cup, so that there’s absolutely no room for any kind of error in trying out the combinations. That’s the reason we’re trying to put people in different positions,” he said.

'Unfair to compare Pant with Dhoni'

In Mohali, for example, Rishabh Pant had kept wickets in the absence of the rested M. S. Dhoni. Pant missed two stumping chances, but Arun brushed aside any undue comparisons with his more established peer.

“It is very unfair to compare Rishabh Pant and [M. S.] Dhoni at this particular moment. Dhoni is huge. He’s a legend. He’s proved on many occasions and his work behind the stumps in exemplary. When Virat [Kohli] needs somebody to talk to, he’s a huge influence.

Rishabh Pant gave under severe criticism for his shoddy glovework during the fourth ODI.   -  R.V. Moorthy


We would like to try out different combinations and it’s not necessary that those are the combinations we need for the World Cup. But we would like to know how people perform under different situations so that we can have a much more balanced and better team for the World Cup.

If at all we need to make any mistake, it’s going to be now, rather than going into the World Cup. We are going to be extremely sure about what we want before we go into a major tournament like the World Cup,” he said.

Mohammed Shami fit for Kotla ODI

On Tuesday, though, winning will be equally important for the morale of the side. In what is a major boost for the side for the final contest, Mohammed Shami, the right-arm seamer, is “fit and raring to go,” according to Arun.

Shami had left the field in the third ODI in Ranchi with an injury scare, and missed the subsequent contest.

A fit-again Mohammed Shami will be back in action for the final ODI.   -  K.V.S. Giri


What also made news in the contest in Ranchi were the camouflage caps India sported as a mark of solidarity for the Indian army. The Pakistan Cricket Board took strong exception to the act, but Arun declared the straightforward position of the Indian team.

“We did what we really felt we needed to do for the country. Show solidarity for what the Army has done for the country. We want to show that we really appreciate the cause. It’s beyond us to think what PCB is saying, it’s beyond our control. The BCCI has done well to get the permission from the ICC. We were handed over the caps. We wanted to show solidarity,” he said.

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