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More than batting order reshuffle, India need mindset change

Modified 16 Jan 2020, 16:19 IST

Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul
Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul

Ever since India’s shocking 10-wicket defeat to Australia in the opening ODI at Wankhede Stadium, calls have been growing thick and fast, from fans and critics, for Indian captain Virat Kohli to abandon his number four experiment, and return to one down.

In the build-up to the series, Kohli had stated that he was willing to sacrifice his batting position, and come lower down in the order to accommodate the in-form KL Rahul. He stuck to his word and batted at number four as all the openers played at Mumbai. The move, however, did not work, and ended up in a massive defeat for India.

While Shikhar Dhawan got a half-century in the game, and KL Rahul fell just short of one, it was the conservative mindset of the duo at Mumbai that hurt India at Wankhede, despite the fact that they featured in a second-wicket stand worth over hundred after Rohit Sharma’s early dismissal.

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A deeper look at the stats reveal that, while Dhawan made 74, he took up 91 balls for it, scoring his runs at a strike rate of 81.32. On the other hand, KL Rahul consumed 61 deliveries for his 47, adding up to a strike rate of 77.05. These are numbers batsmen usually posted in the 90s.

Since both didn't attack enough, Australia were always in the game even though the wickets weren’t coming. And so, when their dismissals came in quick succession, Australia were back on top at 140 for 3. India hadn’t made much progress despite having batted for more than half of the quota of overs.

Virat Kohli dropped himself down to number 4
Virat Kohli dropped himself down to number 4

In an era of power plays and field restrictions, one cannot afford to fall so far back in the game. It is this defensive approach that India will need to recalibrate when they take on Australia in an endeavour to stay alive in the series at Rajkot.

One of the key reasons why India have done well most times Kohli has succeeded at three is because the Indian skipper is mostly ahead of the game. He is very good at assessing a cricket pitch to determine what kind of target needs to be set. Even otherwise, irrespective of the nature of the surface, Kohli’s positive mindset ensures that he keeps the scoreboard ticking over even when the boundaries are not coming.


This is something Dhawan and Rahul failed to do in Mumbai and, which, eventually made life extremely simple for Aussie openers Aaron Finch and David Warner, as there was no pressure on them whatsoever in the chase.

With the series on the line, Kohli must return to his customary number three position, where he has an enviable record. However, there are other factors that India need to consider going into the must-win Rajkot encounter. The middle-order will need to put up a better show for sure.

Shreyas Iyer has not got too many runs in his last few limited overs matches, so he will be keen to set the record straight. The concussion suffered to Rishabh Pant could see either Kedar Jadhav or Manish Pandey returning to the playing eleven. Whoever plays will be expected to make a difference.

Navdeep Saini could return for the Rajkot ODI
Navdeep Saini could return for the Rajkot ODI

India’s bowling attack too experienced a rare off-day in Mumbai. They will be looking to make some changes in that department as well. There is every possibility of the pacy Navdeep Saini coming in for Shardul Thakur. India were missing an X-factor at Wankhede, and would be hoping Saini, with his express pace, can provide the same.

India shouldn’t read too much into the bowling failure though since Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, and Ravindra Jadeja have the ability to bounce back.

In the end, it could all come down to how much Kohli and co. have learnt from their mistakes from the first ODI in Mumbai.

Also read | India vs Australia 2020: 3 strategic changes India should make for the second ODI

Published 16 Jan 2020, 13:01 IST
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