How the Australian tour can help India find a new finisher for the ODIs
India’s ODI Cricket saw its golden period from the year 2009 to 2013. India won most of the major trophies including the World Cup, Champions Trophy, Asia Cup and the CB Series in Australia. India had a formidable batting line-up with Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh as the top 5 in the line-up.
But most of the achievements were made possible by probably the world’s best finisher MS Dhoni. At number 6, he took up the role of finishing the innings and did a terrific job at that. Be it scoring quick runs at the death overs in the first innings or providing stability to the innings while chasing, Dhoni more often than not produced overwhelming results. India almost never required the contributions of the lower order.
But now, things have changed. The batting line-up is different. There are plenty of youngsters who are trying to find a way into the Indian squad. And there is no denying the fact that Dhoni is no more the player he once used to be.
Though he is still capable enough of making it into any ODI squad in the world, yet the standard that he set for himself earlier is not being met now. There is a certain decline in his hitting abilities. Recently he has shown glimpses of his previous form, but that too was achieved by spending a handful time at the crease which means that he needs time now before he could go for the big shots.
India suffered a few losses recently even after reaching to the winning positions because of the inability of the players to finish games. Dhoni is not the only one to be blamed for that though. In the first ODI at Rajkot against South Africa, India lost the match during the final stages when it should have won easily. If it was the Dhoni from the past, he certainly would have spread his magic.
The role of a finisher is up for grabs
The good news for India is that a few youngsters have been picked in the squad who could well take up that role in the future. With no Suresh Raina in the team and Dhoni batting at number 4 or 5, the number 6 spot might well be given to either Manish Pandey or Gurkeerat Mann. Both have been brilliant in the domestic circuit and truly deserve the priced chance.
Pandey was the first Indian to score a hundred in the IPL and has been instrumental in Kolkata Knight Rider’s success. Whereas Gurkeerat was tremendous in the recent tri-series involving the A sides of India, Australia and South Africa. He was handy with both bat and bowl and helped India A in winning the trophy.
The number 7 spot is most likely to be occupied by Ravindra Jadeja going by his current form. He made a stunning comeback against South Africa. He was superb with the ball and played some crucial knocks with the bat at crunch moments.
There is a certain urge in the Indian ODI line-up now for the number 6 and 7 to contribute now. Dhoni needs to be relieved from the duties of being the finisher and should be allowed to bat freely in the middle order and provide stability to the innings. Pandey and Gurkeerat cannot get a better chance than this to settle themselves in the squad in the absence of Raina.
Both have the ability to score quick runs needed at the end overs. The lower order including Jadeja and Ashwin also need to chip in with the runs if India is to win the series in Australia.