Australia vs India, 3rd ODI: 3 Changes made to a winning squad showcases Virat Kohli’s excellent captaincy and foresight
It was a pleasant surprise to see Captain Kohli making three important changes to a squad that had won the second ODI, as usually captains tend to be quite conservative when it comes to ‘tampering’ with a winning eleven.
But in this case, the changes made by Kohli are quite significant and are indicative of India looking at not just short term gains, but at the larger picture, especially at the all-important ICC World Cup.
The selection of Kedar Jadhav ensures that at least one of the top six batsmen in the Indian squad provides India with a sixth bowling option. Though one may argue that Rayudu should have been persisted with, as he had done quite well at number four position prior to this ODI series, Kohli had to bring in Jadhav either at his expense or Karthik’s.
After Karthik’s match-winning cameo in the previous match and the disappointing returns from Rayudu in this series, Kohli’s decision would have been a bit easier. This, of course, should not mean that Rayudu will not get further chances in the New Zealand series! But with an eye on the world cup, regardless of how Jadhav performs in this match, he must be persisted within the playing eleven in the matches leading up to the world cup.
Similarly, the selection of Vijay Shankar is a crucial one. India must groom and develop a back-up option for Hardik Pandya, who has been India’s sole torch-bearer when it comes to a pace-bowling all-rounder.
Even if Pandya gets back to international cricket soon, India needs a backup option. Otherwise, Pandya’s absence from the entire world cup or a few matches owing to injury or any other reason would create a big hole in India’s playing eleven, leading to an imbalance in the squad. At present Shankar and Shivam Dubey seem to be the only two realistic options.
It was also heartening to see Yuzvendra Chahal back in the squad. In the last couple of years, he has been one part of the deadly wrist spinning duo, along with Kuldeep, which has played a significant role in India’s success. Chahal's selection has already paid huge dividends, with the spinner scalping 3 in 3 overs at the time of publishing this article.
However in recent times, especially after the re-emergence of Ravindra Jadeja in India’s ODI scheme of things, Chahal has mostly been sitting out, as Jadeja is deemed more valuable to the team because of his superior batting skills.
But Chahal is a better ODI bowler and a wicket-taking option, whereas Jadeja is more of a containing bowler. Though it would have been better to have both Kuldeep and Chahal play in this match leaving out Jadeja to bolster India’s bowling, it is still good to see Chahal get a game. He may yet play a crucial role in the world cup, and by not playing him at all in the lead-up games, one would only dent his confidence.
All in all, Kohli’s three changes for the third ODI are excellent, especially with an eye on the world cup.