Did India take their opening match of the Asia Cup, towards Hong Kong, frivolously? No. Did they use the chance of taking part in towards an unestablished crew as an opportunity to attempt a couple of issues? Sure. Have been they proper in doing so? Completely.With the World Cup roughly 9 months away, and India taking part in 20-odd 50-over matches within the meantime, any probability to nail down their greatest gamers within the high order and decrease middle-order can’t be wasted.
Virat Kohli will slot again into this line-up and might bat wherever he needs within the high order, and is all however assured to attain runs, however many questions stay unanswered about India’s medium-term batting prospects. Rohit Sharma, who’s warming Kohli’s throne for the second, was candid in his evaluation earlier than the match towards Hong Kong.
Whereas conceding that the No. 3, No. four and No. 6 spots had been up for grabs, Rohit disagreed when it was instructed that the highest order was not gelling properly. Slightly, he stated, it was an opportunity for somebody to assert a spot with one good innings. “Yeah it isn’t settled, everyone knows about it as a result of there’s been numerous guys who’ve performed at that place. Going ahead we would like all the pieces to be settled, however it provides alternative to the fellows to play the cricket they like and seal the spot,” stated Rohit. “I would not say it’s a concern, however in the event you have a look at the long run, as a captain or participant you need your crew to be settled. No one likes to be dropped and introduced again. We would like everybody to really feel protected and settled, in order that they will play freely.”
Secure, settled, play freely. Rohit checked out all of these issues after Hong Kong invited India to bat, however one shot when he took on the left-arm spinner and went leg-side as a substitute of off ended his innings. Shikhar Dhawan went previous 4500 ODI runs in his 106th ODI, scoring his 14th century, whereas by no means wanting overly dominant or masterful. However, oddly sufficient, when Kohli had performed the identical variety of matches, again in 2013, he had the identical variety of centuries. This isn’t to say that Dhawan will match Kohli, however it does warn you in regards to the risks of assessing a batsman on statistics alone.
Let’s assume Dhawan is settled, and there’s no want for a debate on his opening accomplice, Rohit. Who bats at three? There isn’t any apparent selection as a result of this has been a musical chairs type of place, and it’s delicate as a result of it additionally impacts who bats subsequent and at No. 6.
Kohli slots in at 4, Mahendra Singh Dhoni at 5, however who between Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Kartik, Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav fills these slots.
Rayudu is a 50-over monster in that he all the time scores. Any probability he will get he grabs. However he doesn’t push the envelope within the method that trendy 50-over cricket calls for. Whereas he averages greater than 50, he scores his runs at a strike charge of solely 76. In years passed by that will have been trigger for celebration, however Twenty20 has created an expectation that each batsman scores no less than at a run-a-ball. Does the Indian crew want yet another dasher-slasher or can they construct a line-up that has room for one constant heavy-hitter?
Dinesh Karthik all the time appears to be like like the person for the job, particularly when he’s preventing his manner again to the Indian crew, however he has been used as a floater in numerous positions for thus lengthy that it’s laborious to inform if he even is aware of what kind of sport he ought to play. Kedar Jadhav has confirmed he will be an explosive finisher in Twenty20 cricket, however is that the one function he can play? Manish Pandey seems to have each shot within the sport after which a couple of, however he frustrates by not capitalising when given the possibility. After which there may be KL Rahul, who went from long-form participant to T20 dasher, and it’s important to marvel the place he suits into this jigsaw puzzle.
If it looks like India are spoilt for selections, this isn’t fairly true. There may be expertise aplenty however not certainly one of these gamers is aware of which spot he’s auditioning for and due to this fact how he ought to play.
And what awaits them? Solely Pakistan in a crunch match.
Hong Kong didn’t merely scare India in India’s 26-run win, they supplied Rohit’s crew with the type of actuality verify that requires an extended, laborious look within the mirror and rather more after.
When India performs Pakistan there will likely be no room for error, and even much less area to say that cricket was the winner.
First Printed: September 19, 2018, 11:00 AM IST