Australia batsman Marnus Labuschagne, who has already made a name for himself in the Test format, showed promise of carrying his form over to the ODI format through his maiden innings of 46 during the second match against India in Rajkot.
Walking in to bat at 82-2 in a daunting chase of 341, Labuschagne didn’t look too flustered by the enormity of the task in front of him. The difference in conditions from the ones at home, where he scored a record 896 runs from five Tests, didn’t seem to have him troubled either.
He focussed on rotating strike and was prompt in putting the occasional bad ball away. Batting with him at the other end was Steve Smith, who Labuschagne is said to idolise. Smith, who forged a 96-run stand with Labuschagne en route to his knock of 98, lauded Labuschagne’s efforts in his maiden ODI innings.
When he replaced Steve Smith as a concussion sub during the Ashes in August, Marnus Labuschagne was No.98 on the ICC batsmen’s rankings.
He ends the year at No.4. What a year he’s had! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/vazGJL0CRK
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) December 30, 2019
“I thought Marnus played really well in his first bat in one-day international cricket,” Smith said after the game. “He was really busy, we were going at a reasonable rate, we were going at around six an over there for a while.”
With the asking rate climbing, Labuschagne did eventually play a false shot off left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, holing out to long off four short of a fifty from 47 balls. By then he had played some fine shots off India’s spinners, including a resounding sweep off Kuldeep Yadav to wide long on.
“The way Marnus played in his first (innings), to have the courage to hit one over mid-off off Kuldeep (Yadav) really early on, that just shows he’s got something about him. We know he’s in terrific form, he’s been batting beautifully, but transferring that into one-day cricket now is another thing.”
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) January 17, 2020
While Labuschagne was out in the middle, it looked like Australia might be in with a chance, but things fell apart quickly after his dismissal despite Smith’s best efforts. Australia fell 36 runs short as the hosts levelled the series after their 10-wicket mauling in the first ODI at Wankhede.
Things are now set up for the series decider in Bangalore, where Labuschagne will look to further enhance his burgeoning reputation in international cricket, should he get the chance to bat.