Opener Shreyas Iyer clubs 64
Jolted by a thumping defeat in their last game, the Indian team are expected to tweak their batting template from cautious to a more fearless one in the series-deciding third ODI against England at Old Trafford in Manchester on Sunday.
The team, under Rohit Sharma, did put up an ultra-aggressive batting show with a great degree of success during the recently concluded T20 International series but the manner in which they chased a below-par target of 247 in the second ODI has left a lot to be desired.
Rohit would put his hand up and admit that he and the other veteran Shikhar Dhawan, were a bit on the defensive in the wake of some fine swing and seam bowling from Reece Topley and David Willey.
That Virat Kohli’s endless saga of failures has only compounded the problems, is also a big factor, but senior openers playing out two maiden overs at the start, didn’t indicate a positive mindset either.
Therefore a change in approach is required and, for that, a paradigm shift in the mindset while going for the tricky run-chases, unlike the first game at the Oval, where the game was single-handedly won by Jasprit Bumrah’s six-wicket haul.
“I want these guys to take the game on and see if they can find something different about their own game rather than looking at the team’s role. If they get the team out of that situation imagine the confidence they are going to get from that,” Rohit had said after the second game.
The approach of going for leather from the word go worked wonderfully in T20 Internationals and there is no reason that it can’t work in the 50-over format, which many teams see as an extension of two T20 innings.
In fact, even England’s star-studded batting line-up has looked complete out-of-sorts in the two games and suddenly it seemed that the hosts, with power hitters of the calibre of Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes and Liam Livingstone, are playing an archaic one day game.
But India won’t mind as long as these formidable men are being kept under tight leash but the visitors would have to alter their playbook.
And it will be a challenge in a morning ODI at Old Trafford where the ball moves appreciably and India have their 2019 World Cup semifinal defeat in mind at this venue.
Rohit’s approach in most of the games isn’t a problem but the Indian team management, led by head coach Rahul Dravid, will have their own set of issues if 37-year-old Dhawan is their choice going into next year’s 2023 ODI World Cup.
The left-hander, apart from Rohit and Kohli, has been the most prolific scorer, partly because he opens the batting, but also because two supremely talented players in their prime in the last decade, gave him a chance to play his natural game.
But with volume of bilateral ODIs shrinking considerably (most teams play three-match series) and Dhawan playing only one format, he is always having these forced breaks, which is certainly affecting his rhythm.
While the ODI World Cup is still 15 months away, it needs to be deliberated upon seriously whether Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli will be India’s Nos. 1, 2 and 3 going forward.
Coming to Kohli, possibly he would be looking forward to this more than a month-long break after this game as he is expected to get back to the nets and to the drawing board to seek a solution to his problem of front-foot press and jabbing and poking at deliveries moving away from a length.
The weakness is well documented but now the solution is needed as far as his white-ball game is concerned.
In red ball, a particular shot can be avoided and runs can still be scored but in a format where time is of the essence, a solution is needed as runs can be scored off particular deliveries like it happened at his peak.
As far as India’s bowling attack is concerned, it has performed as per expectations in at least four of the five white-ball games so far.
Bumrah has hit the straps and Mohammed Shami, more often than not, produces those unplayable wicket-taking deliveries. Yuzvendra Chahal has altered his technique as he is bowling a tad slower and letting the ball hang in the air to create deception.
Prasidh Krishna, with his ability to get bounce even from a length, will only get better and Hardik Pandya’s bowling rhythm has certainly brought smiles back in the Indian camp.
The only worrying aspect will be Ravindra Jadeja’s sharp decline as a potent left-arm spinner, which probably has gone unnoticed and papered over by impressive performance by the others.
Jadeja has transformed into a batting all-rounder and only time will tell if that will work for India in sub-continental conditions where at least two spinners will need to bowl 20 overs and the Saurashtra man is expected to be one among those two.
England: Jos Buttler (C), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Brydon Carse, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Craig Overton, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, David Willey.
India: Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Prasidh Krishna, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Arshdeep Singh.
Opener Shreyas Iyer clubs 64
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