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Indian rookies ready to take on Australia

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Expert
10th January, 2020
27
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India will field a host of new faces against Australia in the three-match ODI series starting on Tuesday, as they look to build towards the next World Cup.

While they have an experienced and accomplished core, India also have in their squad four rookies who have never before faced Australia.

Here is a guide to India’s fresh players.

Shivam Dube
26 years old
batting all-rounder

First-choice pace all-rounder Hardik Pandya has missed lots of cricket through injury in the past two years, creating opportunities for spin all-rounder Ravi Jadeja and batting all-rounder Vijay Shankar.

Shankar played six ODIs against Australia last year but had minimal impact, averaging 30 with the bat and 66 with the ball. With Shankar since axed and Pandya unavailable for this series, the door has opened for 26-year-old all-rounder Shivam Dube.

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A right-arm seamer, Dube bowls in the mid-130kmh bracket and has nice variations.

It is with the bat, however, that he offers most value. The left-hander has brutal hitting power, having clattered five sixes in the final over of a domestic T20 match recently.

In his 37-match List A career, Dube has a blistering strike rate of 121. Together with dynamic wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, Dube offers tremendous firepower in the middle order.

Shreyas Iyer
25 years old
Batsman

Filled with stars like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and MS Dhoni, this batting line-up has been difficult to break into over the past five or six years.

For a long time, Shreyas Iyer has lurked on the periphery, regularly spoken about as one of the potential future stars of the side. That explains why he’s played a whopping 35 List A matches for India A, a side typically filled with the best players outside of the national squad.

In the last two years he has finally got a few ODI chances and has excelled, making 476 runs at 48, with a terrific strike rate of 105. The fact he’s been unable to nail down a spot is reflective of a wealth of batting talent.

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A powerful right-handed batsman, Iyer is well rounded. Against pace he is equally comfortable on the front or back foot, and is especially effective through the offside. Versus spin he reminds me of Pandya due to his super-quick hands, which allow him to whip through his shots and generate enormous power.

Iyer will take glee in attacking Australian spinners Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar.

Navdeep Saini
27 years old
Express fast bowler

Saini is frighteningly fast – in fact, he’s the quickest bowler in India.

In the most recent IPL season, Saini sent down four of the ten fastest deliveries for the tournament – each measured at between 152 and 153kmh. He bowled faster than Jofra Archer or Lockie Ferguson, both of whom are in the top-five quickest bowlers in international cricket.

Steve Smith looks on as Jofra Archer bowls

Jofra Archer has a bit of pace about him. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

This past week, in a T20 against Sri Lanka, Saini was clocked at 151kmh and was consistently in the mid-140s.

Of course, pace alone isn’t enough to be successful against batsmen like David Warner, Steve Smith and Aaron Finch. Saini also has nice control, thanks to an uncomplicated front-on action. He is tall through the crease which helps him maximise bounce.

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Saini has played just one ODI to date but has been good in his seven international T20s, taking eight wickets at 19.

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Shardul Thakur
28 years old
Swing bowler

Like Saini, Thakur is a right-arm quick, but that is where the similarities end.

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Whereas Saini intimidates batsmen with his pace, Thakur is nowhere near as fast and leans on variety and movement through the air. He maintains a fuller length trying to drag batsmen forward to make the most of his fine out-swinger. Thakur also possesses a tidy clutch of changeups, from slower balls through to cutters and off-pace bouncers.

One of Thakur’s greatest strengths is his ability to bowl in all three major phases of a 50-over innings – he swings the new ball, nags away in the middle overs, and then exploits his variety in the death overs.

More of a role player than an impact bowler, Thakur has been ordinary so far in his ODI career, averaging 42 with the ball from seven matches, with a high economy rate of 6.29 runs per over.