Could this be why the big left-armer sprays the odd ball?
India and Australia will kick start this new edition of their always-sparkling cricket series on Nov 27th at Sydney.
These fierce rivals will be playing each other in an ODI match for the first time since the World cup in the UK.
Much has changed in the world since that brilliant game at The Oval. The COVID pandemic and the associated lockdowns had temporarily taken the wind out of the sporting sail.
However, humanity has found a way around the virus to get the Cricketing spectacle started in some select locations by creating a ‘bio-bubble’. So far, so good!
Indian squad for the ODI in Australia
Team India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (vice-captain andamp; wicketkeeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, Sanju Samson (wicketkeeper).
Unlike other teams, the recent debates on India’s batting order start with who will play at No.4 rather than the opening pair!
When India last played the Aussies, the Indian team looked solid with all bases covered. However, one hard blow to the finger of Shikar Dhawan is all it took to send the Indian team scurrying back to the drawing board. Since then India has tried many players at No.4 and finally seem to have found a good option in Shreyas Iyer.
Shreyas played well in the West Indies and in New Zealand to cement his place at No.4 for now.
India will have a new opening combination for this series due to Rohit Sharma’s injury. Virat has quite a few options to choose his opening combination from among Shikar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill.
I would play the left hand-right hand combination of Shikar Dhawan and Mayank Agarwal at the top. Both are regular openers and should be confident after their decent outing in the IPL.
If one goes by history, the pitches in Sydney and Canberra will not hold many demons for the batsmen. The pitches for the IPL in the UAE had good pace and bounce in the first half of the tournament.
So, the openers should be able to cope well with the pitch conditions at the SCG and The Manuka Oval.
Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya should complete the batting order from three to six. There should be no surprises in this list.
Except for Shreyas, all the players in the Top six looked in good touch during the IPL. Shreyas’s form was a bit up and down during the long tournament. Without the burden of the captaincy weighing him down, one hopes that Shreyas will have had the time since IPL to sort out his batting.
Ravindra Jadeja will be my pick for the No.7 spot. Jadeja is usually a banker for the team. Virat will expect him to play his usual part in this position with the bat, ball and on the field
In the ODI series in New Zealand earlier this year, the Indian bowling was a big letdown. Bumrah, Shami et al. let the Kiwis chase 348 runs quite effortlessly in an ODI.
New Zealand scored 348, 273 and 300 in the three ODIs against India during this series. The bowling unit will want to make amends in this trip down under.
During the IPL, Jasprit Bumrah looked fully fit and in excellent bowling rhythm. Bumrah’s good form will be great news for the Indian team as he is the talisman of the Indian bowling unit. His indifferent form during the New Zealand series set the unit on a disastrous course.
Mohd. Shami and Navdeep Saini will be my pick for the other two pacemen in the team. Virat will want Saini to get his Yorkers right and play his part alongside Bumrah in the death overs.
Yuzvendra (Yuzi) Chahal will be my pick over Kuldeep Yadav for the leading spinner. Chahal looked in great form during the IPL and has the confidence of his Captain to boot. He can be a useful option in the death overs as well. Ravindra Jadeja and Yuzi Chahal will be the two main spinning options during the series.
Now comes the big question! Is Hardik Pandya fit to bowl during the Australia series? Hardik Pandya did not bowl during the IPL. So, if Virat picks Hardik as a pure batsman, then India will be in a spot of bother with just five bowlers in their playing XI.
The Indian team is a good fielding unit, and Virat will expect them to stay true to their potential. I would expect KL Rahul to don the gloves and keep wickets during the series. If he does not keep wickets, then we will have to discuss a few more changes in the batting unit.
I hope that Virat will not bowl a googly at us and leave that job to Chahal!
The bowling fitness of Hardik Pandya will play a significant role in the balance of this Indian team. If Hardik is not fit to bowl, Virat will have choose between the risk of playing with only five bowling options or drop Hardik and play the more inferior all-rounder option of Shradul Thakur.
If I were Virat, I would much rather risk the five bowlers only option than pick Shradul Thakur.