CHENNAI: After losing the Test series in South Africa, India needed to find their groove in the six-match ODI series. And they did it in style, clinching it with a game to spare and annexing the top spot in rankings. All of this was made possible after the wrist-spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal made the hosts dance to their tunes.
However, with the sixth limited-over contest turning into a dead rubber, the Men in Blue might have missed a trick by not resting Kuldeep and Chahal.
The tweakers have been in great form over the last year and have combined to pick up 33 wickets, the most for India spinners in a bilateral series in South Africa. Incidentally, the number also surpasses the previous highest number of wickets in a bilateral series anywhere (27 in 2006 against England).
The duo started bowling in tandem from India’s tour to Sri Lanka last year, and have then gone on to play against Australia, New Zealand, and now the Proteas.
What has been working for them is their novelty factor, with teams struggling to read their variations. However, batsmen might start reading them if there is overexposure.
With Axar Patel waiting in the wings, and R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja out of the scheme of things for the time being, other spin options could have been tried.
“Wrist-spinners have a lot of different bowling options. They can generate a lot of spin on any sort of track and bamboozle opponents. That is what has been happening against South Africa. Most of their batsmen have never faced spinners of such quality, as their domestic cricket does not have wrist-spinners,” remarked former India spinner Maninder Singh.
“Overexposure might be an issue, but why should the management disrupt their flow? Rhythm is very important. Both are at the peak of their powers and should be played as long as possible. The aim should be to keep winning, and that is why they are there instead of bench spinners.”
This is a crucial year for India. Apart from the World Cup next year, quite a few overseas tours (England,
Australia, New Zealand) are also in store. Bench strength is also of importance, considering injuries or fatigue. And that extends to pacers as well.
Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been India’s go-to bowlers in the 50-over format. Bhuvneshwar has featured in 19 ODIs and six T20Is, as well as two Tests on this tour.
Bumrah too has played 20 ODIs since the Sri Lanka tour, along with eight T20Is. On top of that, he even made his Test debut against South Africa. Some rest for the duo is not out of the question. Mohammed Shami has played only three ODIs, mostly due to injury, while Umesh Yadav has also not featured regularly. Shardul Thakur finally managed to get a game in the sixth ODI.
“The management knows the quality of each bowler. Different conditions dictate inclusion. The next year will see everyone get chances. The IPL is also another platform where the they can judge the readiness of certain players,” explained former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad.
“Earlier, the pace contingent used to be limited to two or three names. The best thing is that we have quite a few options now. It’s a good headache to have. I’m sure the team will make the right choices in terms of giving rest to certain players and utilising others in the days to come.”
India take series 5-1
Virat Kohli’s 35th ODI ton gave India an eight-wicket win with 17.5 overs to spare, their biggest margin outside the subcontinent. Chasing 205, Kohli’s unbeaten 129, ensured a 5-1 series win in South Africa, a feat that only Australia had achieved in 2001-02.