On 17th July at Headingley, Leeds England ensured that their winning streak in ODI series at home since 2015 is been kept alive by beating India by 8 wickets. Right from the start of the game English bowlers kept their game well on track. In the middle overs leggie Adhil Rashid’s three wickets rattled the Indian batting order and controlled the target for 257. With help of the third wicket partnership between Joe Root and Eoin Morgan England chased the target with 33 balls to sphere. Also this series win ensured that England are in top of the ICC ODI team rankings. With series loss Virat Kohli lost the first ODI series as captain. The series loss raised many questions in the Indian camp regarding their World cup preparations.
More reliability on the top order batsmen
Indian top order Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli is always been a threat to oppositions over the last few years. This series proved that the Indian team heavily relies on top order batting. In the first game top order showed an amazing performance including the 18th ODI century of Rohit Sharma. The performance gave an easy win for the team. In the last two ODIs eventhough top order showed an average performance that was not enough for the team as they heavily relies upon them. After 2015 World cup more than 62 percent of team’s run had been scored by the top three. And out of the centuries scored by Indian batsmen only 6 centuries have been scored by the middle order batsmen.So the current formula for the opponents is to take the wickets of top three quickly and take control of the game.
Weak Middle Order
In all the three games Indian middle and lower order batsmen didn’t show any convincing performance. Eventhough MS Dhoni scored some runs but his knocks were not convincing and specially the knock of 37 from 59 balls in 2nd ODI went out for many criticism. In the third ODI he scored 42 from 66 balls is little bit cinvincing as he didn’t get any support from main batsmen. But he failed to convert the start he got. Suresh Raina’s comeback into the ODI team after 2 years wasn’t been the one expected from him. In the first ODI he didn’t get the chance to prove himself. But in the last two ODIs he got enough opportunities to make the comeback as the expected one but he failed to do so. In the 2nd ODI he got a good start of 46 runs but he failed to take on the Innings from there and threw away his wicket for an unwanted shot at the phase of the game. In th last ODI he gone cheaply for 1 run as he trapped by the leg slip set by Eoin Morgan and Adhil Rashid. He should have used these two opportunities in his favour as these are the ideal situations for a batsman who is making comeback into the team after two bad years. From here on Raina’s stay in the squad will be in question.
The big headache for the team is the no.4 spot over the last three years. They are trying many players for the spot and all of them are failures. At the start of the series they KL Rahul was made as the new no.4 for team India. In the first ODI he scored 9 runs from 18 balls where no scoreboard pressure was there. In the second ODI he went out for a duck when the team needed the service of the no.4 batsman there. The resulting effect was he dropped from the playing xi for the third game. Dinesh Karthik was sent as no.4 last game. He looked convincing with 21 runs until he went out for a drive which resulted in hitting the stumps after an inside bottom edge. So in this series also the no.4 worries continues for the skipper Virat Kohli. The one problem with the team management related to the no.4 spot is they are not backing up any one for the spot. They continuously change players in the spot. They can giv more chances to a player at no.4 who is capable of using that opportunity. Minimum five games should be given to a player at the spot to adjust himself. Backing up players is the main solution for the team at current position.
Another big issue for the team is the poor bowling in the series. Although Kuldeep Yadav took records breaking six wickets in the first game, the bowling of Indian team was below the par level of the team in the remaining games. Kuldeep Yadav is the only convincing bowler in the series with 9 wickets but he went for runs in the last two games. His spin twin partner Chahal was not impressive throughout the series with just two wickets. Eventhough he is economical he wasn’t upto the expectations. It seems to be Englishmen read the spin twins very well in the ODI series after the loss in the T20I series. The management is considering about the inclusion of these two into the test squad. This series clearly shows if they are included in the test team the mystery in their bowling will be solved. Until 2019 World Cup these 2 mysteries should be remain unsolved if they are main trump cards for India in the World Cup.
In this series the fast bowling unit showed their worst performance in last one and half years. Main reason for this is the injury of the lead seamer Jasprit Bumrah. His fingure injury was a serious problem for India through out the series The another lead seamer Bhuvaneshwar Kumar who missed the first two games due to stiff back was expensive in the series decider conceding 49 runs in 7 overs. As he is not regular in the playing xi in the teams right from the IPL he wasn’t in good touch with the ball because of the injuries chasing him over last three months. Umesh Yadav who had a decent IPL in April and May also went bad through out the series with 3 wickets and higher economy rate. The debutant Siddharth Kaul also showed a disappointing performance without taking any wickets in the two games he played and he also went for plenty of runs like his partner Umesh Yadav. The fifth bowler Hardik Pandya was also not impressive as he also went for plenty of runs with only one wicket in the series. The allrounder also didn’t show any performance with bat where India lacked the hand of a finisher in the last two games after the fall of early wickets within 30 overs.
Overall this series result shows that the Indian team had to be engineered in all departments before the World Cup except the top order. In the top order there is a problem that Dhawan is not converting the ideal starts he is getting in powerplays. The mystery of the spin twins has to be kept confidential. This is too early for their inclusion in test playing xi. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah should be free of injuries and they should get enough match practices. Middle order batsmen Rahul and Karthick should get enough chances in the middle and lower order.Both of them will be vulnerable in the Worldcup.They should be in the team rather than Suresh Raina. And the five bowler theory of Virat Kohli is in doubt now as Pandya is not in good touch. Indian team is lacking the service of allrounders as the all the players who are in form as pure batsmen or pure bowlers except Pandya brothers. The lack of allrounders is also a complex for the team. But there is another problem where to include allrouders. So as of no the five bowler theory is the one skipper can use. For this the fifth bowler should be in the good touch in bowling. So lets see what hapen in future of the Indian team on their road to ICC Cricket Worldcup 2019.