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Opinion: Poor team selection, ‘irrelevant’ attitude hurt India in ODIs against New Zealand

Modified 10 Feb 2020, 15:59 IST

New Zealand with a new look bowling attack restricted India in a chase of 274
New Zealand with a new look bowling attack restricted India in a chase of 274

Having clinched the T20I series by blanking New Zealand 0-5, India went into the three-match ODI series as favourites. However, India failed to replicate their T20I effort in the one-dayers, and ended up losing the series by going down rather disappointingly in the first two matches at Hamilton and then Auckland.

While India were without the consistent Rohit Sharma, New Zealand too were weakened by the absence of their injured captain Kane Williamson. To their credit, the hosts did not allow the Williamson factor to affect their chances and, instead, lifted themselves from a state of despair they found themselves in after the T20I disappointments.

One of the key reasons behind India’s series loss was the poor team selection in both the matches. It was rather surprising that Kedar Jadhav was chosen ahead of the in-form Manish Pandey in both the games. If you look at Jadhav’s recent performances, he scored 40, 16 not out and 9 against West Indies, and 26 not out and 9 in the ongoing ODI series against the Kiwis. The 9 he scored at Auckland was a pain-staking innings as he got stuck at the crease, taking 27 balls for his knock, which put India further in the dock after a poor start.

Kedar Jadhav struggled in the second ODI
Kedar Jadhav struggled in the second ODI

A major curious factor over Jadhav’s continued selection is the fact that he doesn’t bowl any longer. Jadhav was a handy player to have in the team when his bizarre bowling style was working. However, he hasn’t picked up a single wicket in international cricket in a year.

Virat Kohli and the Indian team management clearly seem to have lost faith in the 34-year old’s bowling ability. This is evident from the fact that Jadhav wasn’t given a bowl even as Ross Taylor and Tom Latham went hammer and tongs at Hamilton. Again at Auckland, Kohli did not turn towards Jadhav’s off-spin as the ninth-wicket pair frustrated India.

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Given the circumstances, as well as the fact that Jadhav has a very remote chance of making it to the 2023 World Cup, considering his fitness issues, India have all the more reason to groom someone like a Manish Pandey in the one-day outfit. Pandey is still only 30, and has a few good years of international cricket left in him, if he is taken proper care of.

Significantly, Pandey has been in promising form for India in T20Is, which is why it is the right time for him to become a more permanent fixture in the Indian ODI side. Pandey blasted an unbeaten 31 from 18 in the deciding T20I against Sri Lanka at Pune, and an unbeaten 50 from 36 in the Wellington T20I. In hindsight, one feels India missed a trick by playing Jadhav ahead of Pandey.

Manish Pandey has been sterling in T20s in the limited balls he is facing
Manish Pandey has been sterling in T20s in the limited balls he is facing

Another surprise decision was the one to play Shardul Thakur ahead of Navdeep Saini in the first ODI, and Mohammed Shami in the second. While Thakur has been impressive in the T20Is, the same cannot be said about his performance in the one-day format. In 10 ODIs, he has 11 wickets to his name, averaging 47.45 at a high economy rate of 6.40. Four of his 11 wickets came in one match.

In the two ODIs against New Zealand, he was highly ineffective, conceding 1 for 80 and 2 for 60. Saini, with his pace, and Shami, with his experience, could definitely have been more rational choices in the two games where Thakur was preferred over them.

Indian captain Virat Kohli’s statement that ODIs this year are not as relevant compared to T20s and the Tests was rather shocking. The players are, after all, representing the country in a sport. The irrelevant attitude perhaps dictated India’s team choices and, in the end, the series result.

Also read: Virat Kohli not too bothered by New Zealand ODI series defeat; reveals there'll be changes made for the third ODI

Published 09 Feb 2020, 22:45 IST
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