India’s abject showing against New Zealand in their first warm-up game at the World Cup 2019 was 2018 England all over again. An innocuous batting performance, one that saw the top order fall apart like a house of cards, broke the sense of invincibility surrounding the Indian team as they subsequently went on to lose by 6 wickets.
It was not just the defeat but the agonizing manner in which it came about was what was a massive setback for the Indian team. They were demolished on the day, yet again falling to the fast, swinging and bouncing ball that peppered their batsmen. In a repeat of his 5-21 heroic against India from the fourth ODI in New Zealand, Trent Boult was relentless, using all his guile and trickery to emulate yet another terrific performance.
His 4-33 spell not only ripped through the Indian line-up but brought into light all the glaring weaknesses which continue to remain unanswered by the team management. Ahead of their final practice match against Bangladesh, the Asian giants have one last chance to iron out the pertinent issues and help embed a dependable equation which can take them to the pinnacle this tournament.
Here's a look at 3 such pertinent issues:
#1 Whom to select in the second spinning slot?
While Kuldeep Yadav continued to be a bitter disappointment against New Zealand, failing to work on the areas that saw him come under heavy flak in the IPL, Ravindra Jadeja yet again established his credentials for a permanent spot in the playing XI. Whilst Kuldeep went for 44 runs in his 8 overs, Jadeja’s restrictive line and length on the other end saw him register impressive figures of 1-27 from 7 overs.
It wasn’t just his bowling that impressed with the all-rounder showing why he takes precedent over everyone else as the finest all-rounder in the unit. Coming in to bat when India found themselves at 81-6, Jadeja was unfazed by the proceedings at the other end. He showed determination and diligence, playing out an astounding inning of 54 to rescue India from their predicament and help the side revive their innings from a point where even 150 looked an improbable ask.
While Kuldeep and Chahal bowled extremely well in unison, the upcoming match could be the decider as to who India should go with to accompany Chahal. Another abysmal showing by Kuldeep could see him sit out and see Jadeja being accorded a well-deserved chance.
#2 Time to break free of the T20 mindset
If the prolonged Indian Premier League schedule hampered the participating players' chances of getting the maximum time to acclimatize themselves for the World Cup, one side who suffered the most was India. They had all their squad partaking in the biggest domestic league in the world, leaving the 15-man squad with the least amount of time to get together as a unit and nail down the perfect possible combination to take them to the pinnacle at the World Cup.
What was the most disheartening thing to see in India’s practice match against New Zealand was the way their batsmen continued to play as if it was a T20 match. Starting from Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order to Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni in the middle part, they all were too eager to find the boundary, failing to adapt themselves and craft out a 50-over innings.
Before the World Cup gets under way, India need to iron this out immediately. They need to get back into the groove of ODIs and understand that buying your time out in the middle and keeping your intent in check in the early part of the innings will prove to be fruitful, especially with the new ball frisking around.
#3 The No. 4 conundrum
With Vijay Shankar unfortunately sustaining a hand injury right before the clash against New Zealand and Kedar Jadhav not yet fully fit, India failed to address the biggest burning question ahead of the World Cup. In lieu of that, they decided to try out KL Rahul at number 4, and it was a big failure with the batsman showing that on overseas pitches he’s virtually non-existent.
With KL Rahul ruled out for the slot and MS Dhoni unlikely to be elevated to the position, it’s time for India to give Dinesh Karthik a green signal for that spot if Vijay Shankar is kept out against Bangladesh as a precaution. In the scenario that Shankar returns, India will undoubtedly send him in the spot and try to figure out who they will go in with in the long run.
No matter how flat, tepid and perfect these pitches are for batting, India know they are in for a real scare if their top three are sent to the pavilion cheaply. It makes this facet take precedence over any other issue and the sooner India can address it, the better it is for them.
Virat Kohli (C), Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav
Mashrafe Mortaza (C), Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammad Mithun, Sabbir Rahaman, Mosaddek Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Jayed
ICC ODI Cricket World Cup, Match 10: Bangladesh Vs India
Date And Time: 28th May, Tuesday- 3:00pm IST
Venue: Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
Television: Star Sports 1, Hindi/HD
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