Lack of all-rounders in Indian ODI squad announced for Australia and New Zealand could come back to haunt them
The seventeen-member squad announced for the eight ODI matches against Australia and New Zealand is very much along expected lines. Almost all the players select themselves. The squad has a strong core which can form a strong playing eleven. It also has back up players for almost every position, except for the all-rounders.
KL Rahul is there as a back-up opening batsman behind Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. There are enough pace bowlers to choose from, so that if there is some concern with someone with regards to form or fitness, there is a ready replacement.
Similarly, there are enough middle order batsmen to choose from, and an extra wicket-keeper batsman in Dinesh Karthik. However, there are only two all-rounders who can stake a claim for a spot in the XI, a pace-bowling all-rounder and a spin-bowling one, Hardik Pandya being the former and Kedar Jadhav the latter.
In case of injury to either of them, there is no one to else in the squad to fall back on. The closest to a Kedar Jadhav in the selected Indian squad is Ravindra Jadeja. However, he is more of a bowler and does not come close to Jadhav in batsmanship. Moreover, the success of Kuldeep and Chahal have all but fixed the spinners' slots.
Jadeja also might not find as much success on Australian pitches, with wrist-spinners clearly being the better option.
Jadhav’s primary role in India’s ODI eleven is that of a canny middle order batsman who can bowl a tidy spell and can occasionally be a partnership breaker, and Jadeja will at best be an inadequate replacement for him. In Jadhav’s absence, the Indian think tank usually goes for a batsman as a replacement, weakening India’s batting in the process.
Even more acute is the problem when it comes to having a back-up for India’s pace-bowling all-rounder, Hardik Pandya. There is absolutely no one in the Indian squad who can replace him in the playing eleven. Though this speaks volumes about Pandya’s importance in the Indian ODI team, the thought of him sitting out due to injury is a scary prospect.
Unfortunately for India, both these all-rounders have been injury-prone. Over-dependence on them, and not grooming back-ups may come back to haunt them, not just in the short term in the series against Australia and New Zealand, but also in the upcoming ICC World Cup, which is just a few months away.