Amidst all the jokes around Pakistan’s qualification scenario, Sunday’s game was a big wake up call for the Team India. It might have been India’s first defeat of the 2019 World Cup, but this one was always coming, after the recent performance against Afghanistan and batting mishap against West Indies.
Although there is no need to press the panic button just yet, India needs to sort out a few things as we head towards the business end of the tournament. Here are five changes that can help India in the upcoming games:
1DK in, KJ Out
Dinesh Karthik is in the squad as a back-up wicket-keeper, Dhoni’s deputy. But the Indian think-tank has taken it so seriously that they seem to have forgotten what a quality player, Karthik, the batsman is.
Kedar Jadhav has hardly gotten an opportunity in this tournament. And it was largely due to repeated changes in his batting position. The Pune lad has played at No. 5, 6 and even 7, so far in the World Cup. And after the game against Afghanistan, he has failed to deliver under pressure against West Indies and England.
So it might not be a bad idea to test Karthik, who can be a floater, unlike Kedar Jadhav. DK can bat anywhere in the middle order, sensibly when the team needs him to and hard-hitting when the equation gets difficult. And not to forget, he has opened for India in the past.
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2Sir Jadeja in, Jadhav Out
If India absolutely does not want to go ahead with Dinesh Karthik (a BCCI selector earlier said that he will only play if MSD gets injured), Ravindra Jadeja is another player who can replace Kedar Jadhav.
The all-rounder proved his worth as the batsman in the warm-up game against New Zealand, where he scored a half-century while everyone around him came to the crease just for attendance. And you can always trust Jadeja, the bowler in the middle overs to get through the overs quickly to keep the pressure from the other end.
And man, wouldn’t it be a nice to have him fielding throughout the game instead of just a substitute.
3Pant opens, Rahul Back to No. 4
Just when KL Rahul was getting comfortable at No. 4, Shikhar Dhawan’s untimely injury forced him to open the innings with Rohit. And while it worked in the game against Pakistan, Rahul’s opening has changed the dynamic of India’s batting line up.
First of all, both Rahul and Rohit have a tendency to take some time at the start of the inning. And the questions surrounding the dreaded No. 4 position have begun to pop up once again.
With Pant as an opener, Rohit can go ahead with his usual pace as the youngster is more like Shikhar Dhawan when it comes to batting. And if you doubt Pant’s opening abilities, here are his numbers from the 2016 U19 World Cup:
Matches 6 | Runs 267 | Avg 44 | SR 104 | 100s 1 | 50s 2
Although it doesn’t look like we will get to see that, as Sanjay Bangar suggested in the press conference.
This may sound a little hypocrite after the last suggestion, but India really needs to stick to one batting line-up for its own sake. There have been far too many changes in the order throughout the tournament and it hasn’t really helped any of the middle order batsmen.
Here is how India’s No. 4, 5 and 6 have looked so far:
|Against||No. 4||No. 5||No. 6||No. 7|
|South Africa||KL Rahul||MS Dhoni||Hardik Pandya||–|
|Australia||Hardik Pandya||MS Dhoni||KL Rahul||Kedar Jadhav|
|Pakistan||Hardik Pandya||MS Dhoni||Vijay Shankar||Kedar Jadhav|
|Afghanistan||Vijay Shankar||MS Dhoni||Kedar Jadhav||Hardik Pandya|
|West Indies||Vijay Shankar||Kedar Jadhav||MS Dhoni||Hardik Pandya|
|England||Rishabh Pant||Hardik Pandya||MS Dhoni||Kedar Jadhav|
India has not kept the same batting order in two consecutive games so far. Granted, they were playing according to the situation, but one must also take into consideration that the middle order hasn’t really scored runs so far.
The semi-final of the 2015 World Cup comes to the mind, where the untested Indian middle order failed after the top order had a rare bad day at the office.
Kedar Jadhav against Afghanistan and Dhoni against West Indies are the only two half-centuries scored by the Indian middle order so far in the tournament. Kohli and Shastri need to address the situation and stick to a particular batting line-up for the rest of the tournament.
5Bhuvi in, Kuldeep/Chahal Out
This is not just because the Indian spin duo had a bad day at the office against England. But Bhuvneshwar Kumar, fit and ready to play once again can be a big asset to the Indian bowling department.
Of course, for this change, Jadeja absolutely needs to play the game as the second spinner.
With Bhuvi back in the side, Kohli can afford to give Bumrah 1-2 overs in the middle overs. The No. 1 ranked bowler was simply brilliant at the death against England but saving his five overs for the last, does not give him an opportunity to have crack at the opponents in overs 20-40. He will be able to do it if Bhuvi, also a quality death bolwer, returns to the side.
With three inform pacers, India will have a number of wicket taking options even if one of them has a bad day. And Kohli will not have to worry about Pandya’s overs as he will become the sixth bowler.