Not only did India lose all three matches of the ODI series against New Zealand, the manner in which they lost the games was alarming. Barring a brief period in the second ODI, India always seemed to be under pressure and behind the game right through the series.
While India went into the series without two of their key players Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan who have been the mainstays of Indian batting in 50-over cricket in the last few years, the visitors were still expected to give the Blackcaps a run for their money.
However, as it turned out, the series was pretty much one-sided for the Kiwis as they cruised on their way to a 3-0 whitewash.
It’s a tough pill to swallow for India and the management now surely needs to reflect on the result and identify the immediate causes of concern for the team in 50-over cricket.
Here are the 3 immediate causes of concern for the Indian ODI team:
Also see – PSL schedule
#1 Form of Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah has been a vital cog in India’s bowling attack in all three formats of the game, more so in white-ball cricket. But he has not looked his old self since he has come back from injury. The 26-year old remained wicketless in the entire ODI series against New Zealand.
Bumrah has not got a conventional bowling action. Every time he delivers a ball, it takes more out of his body than any other bowler who has got a conventional action.
The fact that he suffered a stress fracture in his lower back seems to have damaged his confidence quite a bit. He is someone who has always backed himself to bowl yorkers consistently at any stage of the innings. But since his return from a stress fracture, the yorkers have disappeared and it’s a huge matter of concern for India.
Yorkers put the lower back of a bowler under immense stress and it’s understandable that Bumrah might have been a little reluctant to push himself too much straight away after a stress fracture. But if his accuracy with the yorkers suffers in the longer run, it won’t be good for India by any stretch of imagination.
#2 Lack of a proper finisher
Batting at no. 6 and no. 7 is completely different from batting in top 4. While you need class, patience and the ability to manoeuvre the bowling while batting in top 4, you need to have the ability to find boundaries while batting at no. 6 and no. 7.
The batsman batting in the lower middle-order walk in to bat at a time when the white ball gets softer and timing the ball doesn’t necessarily remain as easy as it is at the top of the order, when the ball remains new and hard.
Players batting at no. 6 and no. 7 need to have an element of power game in their batting. India have got a couple of players in Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant to do that job, but Pandya has been injured for a decent period of time and Pant has lost his place in the XI due to inconsistent form.
India need to look for a couple of power players in the domestic circuit who have got a bit of game-sense as well, as game-sense is also as important as power hitting while batting in the latter stages of the innings.
#3 Imbalanced bowling combination
With Hardik Pandya not there at the moment, India are forced to play three fast bowlers which means they want their second spinner to be able to bat in top 7. That’s the reason why Ravindra Jadeja has been getting a consistent go-ahead of the second wrist-spinner at the moment.
While Jadeja hasn’t bowled poorly in recent times, he is not an attacking option in the middle overs in white-ball cricket. The fact that Kuldeep has not been in the greatest of form with the ball has also forced India to persist with Jadeja.
Playing two wrist spinners is probably the right way to go for India if they want wickets in the middle overs, but for that, they will have to find a seam-bowling all-rounder who can bowl 10 overs or a wrist spinner who can bat at no. 7.
The seam bowling all-rounders that India have at the moment, apart from Hardik, aren’t quite efficient enough with the ball to bowl 10 overs regularly and the wrist spinners who are there aren’t quite efficient enough with the bat to be slotted at no. 7.
The new chief selector, who will be named by the end of this month, will surely have his task cut out.