Highlighting India’s issues and what they need to do ahead of the World Cup

India are definitely one of the favourites to win the silverware next year.

Team India
Team India. (Photo Source: Twitter)

A common topic of discussion after the recently concluded ODI series, against the Windies which India won 3-1, was depth in batting. Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have scored the majority of runs for them in the last two years at the top of the order. The classic case was the chase in Pune where India lost. Virat Kohli, a master of
ODI chases could not get the team past the line, due to lack of support from the middle and lower order, despite a century. With M.S. Dhoni not in best of form what are India’s options?

Allrounders are the need of the hour

Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kedar Jadhav are the potential options for India to increase the depth in batting. Fast bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s unavailability due to injury hurt the balance of the team. With Dhoni’s form a worry, these all-rounders can be a cushion.

Their contributions can be handy down the order in the final analysis. The partnership between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja in the Asia Cup final against Bangladesh was instrumental in India lifting the cup. Team management might also be looking at Ravichandran Ashwin if the need arises going forward.

Number four conundrum

Ambati Rayudu coming up with a century and a half-century in this series means the number four spot seemed to be sealed. Rayudu’s test though will come against Australia in those conditions, and his performance there will be the key for him to cement his place for the World Cup. With KL Rahul breathing down his neck he would need to be
on his toes in that series. The other options at the position are Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey. Ajinkya Rahane with his experience in conditions abroad may also fancy his chances.

Dhoni – the lower middle-order glue

Wicket keeper Rishabh Pant is breathing down Dhoni’s neck. The latter would need to step up in Australia. Virat Kohli has thrown his weight behind the veteran time and again. Pant’s inclusion in the T20s should not be a concern for the experienced cricketer though. The main issue for the former captain would be lack of match practice, for the next two months, ahead of the ODI series against Australia.

It would be in his own interest that Dhoni plays Ranji trophy for Jharkhand. Runs under his belt will give him the confidence as keeping is not the worry. A good performance in Australia can keep him in good stead going into the showpiece event next year. Virat Kohli would definitely want his advice and experience during the mega event.

The way going forward to the 2019 World Cup

Middle order needs to make the difference

With the World Cup in six months time, India will have to build a bench strength as they have only 13 ODIs. The only way for the Men in Blue to plug in the loop holes is to make sure that the weak links help them win the series in Australia and New Zealand.

The middle-order would need to make massive contributions in those tough conditions against quality bowling attacks. MS Dhoni will have to lead the way as he is the experienced link in the middle order. The team management would want him to fire on all cylinders to take the pressure off the top order.

More fast bowling options

India would also need a couple of fast bowling options as a back up for Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvi. Mohammed  Shami, Umesh Yadav and Khaleel will have to come to the party as and when they are called up in these
helpful conditions. Hardik Pandya’s performance in Australia and New Zealand will be keenly watched. Pandya recovering from the injury he sustained in the Asia Cup will need to hit the ground running with
both bat and ball.

Race against time

India have very little time to fix this jigsaw puzzle. Each player has to contribute to the team’s cause in the upcoming matches. Injury concerns need to be allied and only a fit and in form team India will be able to clinch the coveted ware next year.

~Written by Rajeev Viswanathan