Australia in India 2013-14 October 28, 2013

Yuvraj, Raina face Johnson test

Australia's plan against left-hand batsmen in this series has been simple - Unleash Mitchell Johnson and pepper them with short deliveries

He might bowl to the left, he might bowl to the right, but in limited-overs cricket, especially against slightly suspect left-hand batsmen, Mitchell Johnson's bowling is definitely not shite.

Ask Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh, who have been hounded by him in this otherwise high scoring one-day series.

Australia's plan has been clear: let Johnson loose the moment Raina and Yuvraj come out to bat, even if it means bowling him for fewer overs with the new ball. Johnson to Yuvraj this series: five balls, one run, and two wickets. Johnson to Raina: 16 balls, 15 runs, and one wicket. These stats are consistent with the two batsmen's overall record against Johnson. Yuvraj struggles against him: 76 runs off 129 balls for five dismissals. Raina hits out, but gets out: 51 runs off 47 balls, but he has got out every 12 balls.

Before the ODI in Cuttack was washed out, leaving Australia a win away from taking the series, Shane Watson had spoken about getting these one-on-one contests right. "It's important to get our match-ups right," he had said. "When we are bowling against their batsmen, we have got our match-ups right. Mitch Johnson certainly provides a big x-factor for us. There are a couple of guys who aren't as comfortable against the short ball when compared to some of their other batsmen."

The identities of these batsmen are no secret. Yuvraj's first dismissal to Johnson was to a short ball outside off at searing pace. He fended and edged it, not dissimilarly to how he has done throughout his career. In the next, the ball wasn't that short, but Yuvraj was caught on the back foot and just pushed at it away from the body. Raina just went for a big pull, and edged it.

The bouncer works against these batsmen and it is a precise art. For one, it has to have Johnson's pace. Then, he has to be fresh and ready when these batsmen come in. And then Johnson has to execute the plan with precision. George Bailey has astutely kept him ready, bowling him for only three overs at the top. Watson said it was a deliberate ploy.

"It certainly has been [a plan]," Watson said. "No doubt. After seeing what happened in the Twenty20 in Rajkot, especially [with] Yuvi, when we didn't get our plans exactly right to him … he is an extremely talented player. If we give him a chance to get away, he certainly hits the ball very sweet.

"And also Suresh Raina, he is a high-quality, world-class player as well so we are very lucky to have Mitch bowling with the pace and the control that he has got at this point in time. Certainly a huge weapon for us. We know how important their middle order is for their success. You have seen it work so far throughout this series. Hopefully it can continue to work for a little bit longer."

For a team with two main batsmen suspect against high pace and bounce, India's overall batting results haven't been that bad. They even chased 360 successfully. Except in that game, in Jaipur, Raina and Yuvraj were not even required to bat. Watson can laugh about that. "We need to try to get to that stage," he said. "Even in Jaipur, we didn't get a chance to get to that middle order because the top order batted so well."

Struggling against Johnson in ODI cricket, if you are a left-hand batsman, is nothing to be ashamed of. Since he made his debut, Johnson has statistically been the best bowler to left-hand batsmen in one-day cricket. He is up there with the best overall too, but against left-hand batsmen, his 82 wickets at 17.24 are a cut above the rest.

The two remaining games, with India needing to win both to win the series, are a big test for Yuvraj and Raina. Unless they come in to bat after the 35th over or so, they will have Johnson fresh and waiting for them. How they counter him might even have repercussions on how they are used in the World Cup in Australia.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 30, 2013, 18:31 GMT

    This is how it goes.....well played India...Hard Luck Australia nice try !!! A few noted pointers !!! a) Flat pitch b) Bad bowling from both sides c) Brilliant batting from all the batsmen

    The better team won on the day which was India :) This is how it should have been but what we have now is a whole bunch of blame game. Since I see a lot of Australians , SAF, English people blaming a whole lot of things for the win , I would love to draw the attention to a few things....

    AUS Frankly speaking lets just put it straight they are a shadow of what they used to be... gone downhill completely.

    ENG - They simply don't have any idea about ODI/T20 cricket pls no excuses of pitches or conditions , you just need to be better in this forms...dnt even remember last time seeing you people win a championship

    SAF- They simply cannot handle the pressure of limited overs cricket.

    In a sport played in 8 nations if 3 are struggling, then for sure one will standout which in this case is INDIA !!

  • Ajit on October 30, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    Dhoni is messing up both Raina and Yuvi's batting by playing them in the wrong positions. Yuvi is a good no. 4 player and Raina is a good finisher. So he should get this and put an end to the failed experiment now.

  • prasad on October 30, 2013, 17:20 GMT

    respect for england ,south afrika, australiya and sri lanka cricket and newzealend,,,,,,classy teams

  • Harmon on October 30, 2013, 16:15 GMT


    ---"Australia played poorly because they didn't play well"--- What a roundabout way of explaining things !!!

    So now we have dust bowls of a few kinds. Quite imaginative. Before that Perth2008 test we heard that Some guy called Taitty or something will bowl at 170kmph & will blow us away. Afterwards, India won that test and that guy retired from tests altogether. Also thrown in was the excuse that Perth was not the usual fast at that time. Did you guys not know this before the test?

    We hear the same excuse for Eng during CT13 now. Why do these excuses come in later?

    Still, if the wickets were some new kind of English dust bowls, both Aus & Eng lost to India, in two different poor ways. Does it cause a tongue sprain if you were to say India played well to win CT13?

    You use a similar tactic for CB08 too, that Aus were not interested in it. So it can't be that India played well. It is either the change in the wicket or the other side was not into it.

    'Piles' of Excuses.

  • thomas on October 30, 2013, 15:56 GMT

    Time to try Rahane and Rayadu....

  • Dummy4 on October 30, 2013, 15:17 GMT

    And both FAILED :( everyone of us was scared of the same!

  • Peter on October 30, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    @Naresh28. I currently still play cricket & all 3 forms and let me reassure you, it isn't all the same. India has still to win a series in both South Africa & Australia & haven't won a test series in Sri Lanka since 1995. I would suggest your results last time you toured England & Australia sort of disproves your statements.

  • rob on October 30, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    @ sidh78: Dear sid, I'm pretty sure hhillbumper is an Englishman. I'm not 100% about that, but fairly sure.

    I remember the 2008 series. You had a young leggie who looked a million bucks. Started with C. .. Chawla or similar I think. .. yeah, anyway whatever happened to him?

    My main memory of that series is that the hosts didn't really look interested in the contest. They looked like they would rather be anywhere on earth but there. .. I've no idea why.

  • sidh on October 30, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    @dear hhillbumper last time india go to sa in 2011 and india draw the series 1-1. actually india nearly won the draw match india dominate in total match but due kallis inininga sa escape from defeat but india totally dominate that match.and dear india won the test serieses in eng nz wi.if umpire not given many wrong desicion,india had drew series 2-2 in aus in india won 3 wc on fast bouncy pitches in1983 & 2007 in eng sa.finalist in 2003 wc in sa.recentally won CT in eng.AND AND Thrashed u r great aus team on u r home fast and bouncy pitches in CB series in 2008 in straight two final matches.that aus team had u r great players like ponting hayden clarke symond.

  • Naresh on October 30, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    @hhillbumper - NO WONDER YUVI THRASHED BROAD FOR 6 sixes in ONE OVER in SA PITCH!!!! Did you ever play cricket in your life, your crictism is misplaced most of the time? Whether you play TEST, ODI, T20 it is still cricket? The fact that we had Dravid, Tendulkar, LAXMAN, Shewag, Ganguly, Gavaskar, Vishwanath, DHAWAN, KOHLI, even young CHAND etc scores 100's in all parts of the world shows we can play what you give us - really you go overboard. Learn to make sense sometimes - INDIA went to No1 in tests, ODI and T20 not long ago.