CHENNAI: After the disappointing loss in Perth, the action shifts to Brisbane for the second of five ODIs. With another flat track likely at the Gabba, one of the questions bothering MS Dhoni surely must be sorting out the batting order.
The team management had stuck with a core over the years in Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina, who has now been dropped. The problem starts when you try to fix a square peg in a round hole. The first four are best suited to bat in the top-three. Add to this Dhoni’s waning powers and Raina’s exclusion, the situation becomes grimmer. There are question marks at the top. Dhawan is not consistent enough to merit a long rope.
Since his comeback in 2013, he has scored eight hundreds in 63 innings and gone past 50 an additional 14 times. Yet, read the fine print: five of those hundreds came in 2013, and just one in 2014 against Sri Lanka at home. He may have been India’s most successful batsman at the World Cup but consistency remains a major thorn. A ton every eight innings isn’t bad, but when you consider the wait for each century, with Rahane continually denied the chance to open, the cost increases manifold.
“Dhawan is an explosive batsman. If he gets going, India can definitely look forward to putting up a big score. But I don’t think he’s the best opening option in the long run unless he sorts out mental issues. He should be given another chance. If he fails to deliver, then in Rahane, India have a ready-made replacement,” former India opener and coach Lalchand Rajput told Express.
While Rahane continues to put forward his case of batting higher up the order, Kohli’s track record also comes in the way. While the vice-captain had a poor 2015 by his lofty standards (scoring just two hundreds), his career average at his favorite No 3 spot is 58.13.
India have missed the services of a bowling all-rounder. It was a major surprise when Gurkeerat Mann was not given a single game at home against South Africa. With Raina not selected, one of Mann, Manish Pandey and Rishi Dhawan is expected to get a few games this series. Pandey it was in the first match, but didn’t get a chance to bat.
“In Australian conditions, we need a seam bowling all-rounder. Rishi fits the bill. He deserves a look-in if India opt for four pacers,” Rajput opined, before adding: “The best part of our batting has always been flexibility. If anyone struggles, the think-tank can vary the order. We’ve a dearth of finishers and Dhoni has to up the ante.”
On what should be India’s game plan for Friday, he said, “After the performance of the spinners, I think India should try and bowl first. After restricting the opposition, batsmen can then play according to the situation.”
Pros & Cons
After a poor show in the first ODI, India bowlers will want to raise their game for the Brisbane encounter. Onus will be on spinners to provide breakthroughs in the middle overs.
Pitch & Conditions
The Gabba pitch looks to be full of runs, and another high-scoring contest is on the cards. However, there is chance of rain in the evening.
India: Dhawan, Rohit, Kohli, Rahane, Pandey, Dhoni (c&wk), Jadeja, Ashwin, Umesh, Bhuvneshwar, Sran.
Australia: Marsh, Finch, Smith (c), Bailey, Maxwell, Wade (wk), Faulkner, Richardson, Boland, Hazlewood, Paris.