India vs Australia 2019: 3 questions India are struggling to find answers to
#2 Can Vijay Shankar be the sixth bowling option?
Vijay Shankar has impressed everyone with his batting in the limited opportunities he has got recently. He is now one of the strong contenders for the World Cup squad.
However, using him as the sixth bowling option in the World Cup is still a question to be answered. Apart from the 3rd ODI against Australia, where he bowled 8 overs, he was not tested as a bowler much - although he showed great temperament by taking two wickets and winning the game in the last over in the 2nd ODI.
It was strange to see him not bowling in the 5th ODI because he is someone who can replace Hardik Pandya in case of an injury, and should be able to bowl 7-8 overs if a bowler has an off day in the field. Not giving enough overs to him to bowl has indeed raised the question of using him as the sixth bowling option.
#3 Who is India's No. 4?
India have taken several auditions for the No. 4 position in the recent times. Plenty of players like Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul etc. have been tried and tested, but too much chopping and changing hasn't allowed anyone to seal the spot.
Ambati Rayudu showed consistency in Asia Cup 2018 and the ODI series against West indies that followed, but his weaknesses were exposed in the fast bowling conditions in Australia and New Zealand. His inability to rotate the strike and shortcomings against fast bowling cost him the No. 4 position after the 3rd ODI against Australia.
India have played Rishabh Pant at No. 4, and even Virat Kohli batted there once. Looking at how India are shuffling players, it seems as though they are yet to get out of the No. 4 conundrum.
Who will be India's No. 4? Will India persist with Rayudu, or will someone like Vijay Shankar or KL Rahul replace him? Or will Dinesh Karthik make into the World Cup squad as the No. 4 batsman? It seems that the slot is now up for grabs by anyone.
With only three months left for the World Cup 2019, India are yet to find the answers to these questions. Although India are a formidable side and a strong contender for the coveted trophy, a loose screw or two may cost them their World Cup dream.
It will be interesting to see how Indian team management and selection committee find a way to answer these questions before the World Cup.