India no longer getting finished products from domestic cricket, says Dhoni
The breath of fresh air, as well as the fresh legs around the Indian Cricket Team, may have enthused the selectors very well, but if one goes by the Indian limited-overs captain’s words, his side is no longer receiving finished products from the domestic circuit.
As India embark on their tour to Australia, with this series touted to be their ‘best chance’ to beat the world champions in a bilateral series in their own den, they have multiple new faces. But the question that looms and the one that has been acknowledged by the skipper as well is whether these youngsters have the ability to handle pressure, and perform from the word go.
The absence of a seaming all-rounder has troubled the team’s balance over the past years whenever they have played outside Asia, and notwithstanding Rishi Dhawan’s presence in their midst, the leader of the side looks less confident.
India lack what Australia have
Citing India’s opponents as an example, Dhoni said that Australia have been playing to their strength because their domestic structure is capable enough to provide them with fast bowlers who could perform immediately.
“If you see what makes life easy for an international team is the kind of domestic cricket… if you see the Australian first-class cricket, it is very good, which means the players who come up from the ranks of domestic cricket or first-class cricket have already got good exposure of playing cricketers who have played international cricket or are playing international cricket at that point of time. I feel that way Australian cricket is blessed,” he said on the eve of the first ODI at the WACA.
Comparing this to India, the 34-year old said, “If you see Indian cricket, more often than not, we are used to getting the complete product. Right from the late '80s onwards we have got cricketers who were ready to play international cricket. Once they made their debut they were there for like 10 to 15 years.”
“I think the trend is changing slowly. Even if you see the batsmen nowadays, they have been part of the side for quite some time and we have had to groom them. I feel the same applies to the bowlers.”
“We may not have the luxury of just picking up the complete product to come into international cricket and start delivering from the very first game. It is important to identify talent and at the same time give them games quite quickly so that they get that exposure of international cricket. And we also see get to see how they handle pressure and the areas where they need to improve.”
Three-two combination leaves no room for Rishi
These comments from the skipper almost close the door for Dhawan, who, in fact, is one of those seaming all-rounders his captain has been talking about. Dhawan is the second highest wicket-taker for Himachal Pradesh- his Ranji team and batted at No. 4 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
It was further reinforced when a team combination was asked about.
The Ranchi-born cricketer said, “Most likely it will be three-two [quicks-spinners]. Because we don't really have a seaming allrounder so most likely it will be a three-two combination. Who are the players, we will wait and watch.”
Going by these words, the most likely three-two combination could be Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Brainder Sran (who would make his debut) along with the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja
Sran has negligible List A experience and has played just one IPL game, but with the injury to Mohammad Shami, and with the former being a left-arm pacer, he might get picked ahead of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar- who has been flown in as a replacement for Shami.
Batting order and the finisher’s role
The team selection for the tour has raised more questions than it has answered. The absence of Suresh Raina leaves the finisher’s slot vacant. Asking a newcomer to perform the role in foreign conditions could be a hazardous start to his career.
Either Gurkeerat Mann or Manish Pandey are slated to do that, given that India must not alter the batting positions of its top four. To protect the inexperienced men from facing the pressure of finishing, and in order to give them proper time and opportunity to bat, Dhoni might himself re-occupy the No. 6 position in the side, despite his desire to bat higher.
"I feel it's very important that youngsters who get a chance get a good opportunity to bat.”
“That's why I have always been in favour of giving the youngsters a chance to bat at 5 because that's the only place I have. That's the only place I can trade. If they consistently bat at 6, on a very good day they will score 30-odd runs. On a bad day they will score 10 runs. After 15 games, the media will be like, 'He averages only 15, get him out of the side.'”
The batting order that India have followed in their recent One-day endeavours has been confusing and baffling to say the least. Ajinkya Rahane was shifted up and down the order to accommodate Dhoni at No. 5, and despite him doing well at both the positions- No.3 and No. 6- there was no permanency in the line-up.
Admittedly, the skipper wants a flexible batting order but feels that the batsmen coming in from the domestic level don’t have the ability of adapt and adjust. “Yes I admit a lot of batsmen find it very difficult to do it [move up and down the order] but at the end of the day if everyone becomes very rigid with their batting order it becomes very difficult for the team.”
“Yes I admit a lot of batsmen find it very difficult to do it [move up and down the order] but at the end of the day if everyone becomes very rigid with their batting order it becomes very difficult for the team.”