India used Asia cup as an audition for the next year's World Cup. The fringe players were aware that this could be the make or break for them as far as getting a place in the World Cup squad is concerned. One player who was not in India's scheme of things prior to Asia Cup was Ravindra Jadeja. Hardik Pandya's injury was the stroke of luck that Jadeja needed. The Indian team was looking to solve their middle order puzzle at the Asia Cup, instead, they ended up adding one more selection conundrum - which all-rounder to pick in the eleven for the World Cup - Jadeja or Pandya?
It's a good headache to have as it gives team management more options to choose from. Hardik Pandya has been good for India in the limited overs format, but he is not indispensable. His performance in the recently concluded ODI series in England was below par. He scored 42 runs in three matches and picked up just 1 wicket with an economy rate of 6.93. These figures certainly do not provide a lot of confidence about his ability to bowl or bat in English conditions.
On the other hand, Jadeja, who found himself out of the ODI reckoning in the last 15 months, got a lucky break during the Asia Cup and he utilised it. Jadeja's ability as a bowler is well documented but his batting has always been a source of frustration for the Indian team management.
In spite of being a good batsman he never quite lived up to his billing of an all-rounder due to his impulsive batting. In the previous stint in the Indian ODI team, Jadeja often used to get out playing rash shots, but at the Asia Cup, we witnessed a different side of Jadeja, the batsman - a mature batsman who played with the coolness of a saint and looked committed to taking his team over the line. These are the qualities Indian team is scouting for since the time MS Dhoni lost his Midas touch.
One can argue that on English pitches a medium pace all-rounder would be handier than a spinning all-rounder, but during the last India-England ODI series Indian spinners picked up 11 wickets amongst themselves, whereas pacers ended up with just 5 wickets in 3 matches. The economy rate of Indian spinners was much lower than the economy rate of fast bowlers. Lately, English wickets have been on the flatter side in ODIs, which makes spinners a good option in the middle overs.
Taking into account these facts, it would not be a bad idea to play a spinning all-rounder who has the requisite experience, in the World Cup. India can also play Jadeja as the second spinner, which will give them the luxury to play three genuine pace bowlers in the line-up.
Pandya has been India's first choice as an all-rounder from the last couple of years, but to be fair, he has not set the world on fire during this period. His inconsistency as a batsman has been a major drawback, Pandya has scored just 4 fifties during the 42 ODI's he has played, so far, which is below par for an all-rounder.
His economy rate of 5.55 as a bowler, is also not great. On the other hand, Jadeja has bowled with an economy rate of 4.88 during the 140 ODI's he has played, so far.
India might not have been able to find the solution to their middle order woes during the Asia Cup, but they have gained in an intended area. Jadeja with his newfound maturity might have done enough in the tournament to ruffle a few feathers in the minds of the Indian thinktank.Published 01 Oct 2018, 07:23 IST