Even in their final ODI on Wednesday before the World Cup that is two-and-a-half months away, the Indian cricket team did not stop experimenting.
And if the just-concluded series is any indication, the result of these experiments does not paint a happy picture. The constant chopping and churning of the team composition has only added to the insecurity of players.
Is Ambati Rayudu any more confident of his place in the team — being dropped after three failures? Is Shikhar Dhawan, while enjoying a long rope, batting any more consistently than he does? The answer to both is a resounding NO.
Is Bhuvneshwar Kumar assured of his place ever? He is always the fall guy despite the fact that conditions in England will suit the way he bowls.
Added to that, some players are taking rest so that their replacements can walk in and fail as well. Take the case of Rishabh Pant.
The five-ODI-old wicket-keeper was to No. 4 when pursuing a target of 273 with the series in line on Wednesday. The Delhi left-hander failed to capitalise on the chance — a golden opportunity to make it big thrown down the drain.
Pant will consider himself lucky if he goes on that flight to the United Kingdom as an understudy to the veteran Dhoni. Pant has not done anything decent behind the stumps — remember his costly stumping misses in the fourth ODI in Mohali? Nor has he played a turnaround knock with his bat.
India’s experiment clearly did not work in the final ODI. As it did not on quite a few occasions in the recent past.
Before India’s departure to Australia in November last year, coach Ravi Shastri had said that the last 13 ODIs would feature more or less the squad that would go for the World Cup. But India employed 21 players in all during these 13 ODIs including some of them who are certain of not making it to the World Cup squad.
Players such as Shubman Gill, Mohammed Siraj, Khaleel Ahmed were given at least a game each while someone who looked like a certainty, say Dinesh Karthik for his role of finishing the matches and also as a reserve wicket-keeper, was dropped from the squad after being given a run of five matches.
And, one of the certainties for the World Cup, Jasprit Bumrah was rested from the ODIs in Australia and New Zealand as part of his bowling workload management.
While, at the start of the home series against Australia, there were at least 11 players who were automatic choices for the World Cup, and only four places were up for grabs, going by the form in the series, the selectors may have to scratch their heads and look at a wider picture before zeroing in on the final 15 for the quadrennial event.
Rahul was given a chance in Mohali and might still be the reserve opener but he had only one ODI in the last five months under his belt.
The inclusion of Rahul in the fourth one-dayer in Mohali was a baffler. It forced Kohli to go down the order and well, the Karnataka batsman did precious little to boost his confidence or of that of a fan of the Men in Blue.
The issue of using part-time fifth bowler is baffling. Depending on Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar has not really worked. Calling both these batsmen as all-rounders is wishful thinking. They are batsmen and should be rolling their arm over now and then. Period.
Finally, in the fifth ODI, as Bhuvneshwar scored 46 and put together 91 runs with Jadhav, he showed apart from being an irreplaceable bowler, he is a reliable lower-order batsman. He has shown this quality many times and yet, he keeps warming the bench.
Team India’s experiments have failed and how. However, it hasn’t been a complete failure. As an undesirable side effect, they have made a compelling case for players who need to be dropped rather than for those that can be put on that plane to England this summer.
Source: Sports News