VISAKHAPATNAM: It’s been the season of comebacks for many Indian players.
Five-day regulars like Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav have all donned the blue jersey after prolonged absences. Despite it being catalysed by a back injury to Hardik Pandya, Jadeja’s return to ODIs during Asia Cup after a year or so is perhaps the most impressive among this lot. In the four matches that he figured in during the event, the southpaw scalped nine wickets.
After that, it wasn’t surprising to see India’s think-tank breaking its preferred wrist-spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav in Guwahati by benching the latter. Though Jadeja gave away quite a few more runs than he would’ve wanted (66), he took two wickets, one of those being the prized kill of centurion Shimron Hetmyer.
The occasional non-pairing notwithstanding, the Kuldeep-Chahal combine has been quite unbreakable over the last one year, especially at home. In the last 12 months, the chinaman has grabbed 39 wickets in 17 ODIs at an extremely impressive average of 17.00. In the same time-frame, Chahal has snared 37 wickets in 20 matches at an average of 22.27.
On the other hand, useful cameos down the order during the Asia Cup have served Jadeja in good stead. So, how does the current scenario affect the spin-bowling combination of the team, keeping in mind the World Cup?
Former India spinner Maninder Singh believes that batting abilities do give Jadeja an edge over other India spinners, but only consistent bowling performances can guarantee him a place in England next year.
“Yes, definitely. His batting talent does give him advantage over other spinners. But he has to mainly concentrate on his bowling efforts if he wants to take the flight to England. That is what will get him the ticket,” Singh told Express.
“I think the team management is giving him a long rope to prove his talent once again. They already know that Kuldeep has established himself as a potent spin weapon.”
Maninder thinks that there is ample time for India to arrive at a consensus on the spin-bowling combination they will use at the World Cup. “Seventeen ODIs are still to be played. The combination will depend upon what kind of team the management wants to take. Whether they want three spinners in the squad or not; all that will come into play. Right now, Chahal and Kuldeep seem to be certain. Jadeja has to bowl really well to get his name into that playing XI.”
India have named an identical final 12 for their second ODI.
Ishant comes calling
None of the pacers in the ODI squad turned up for the optional practice session on Tuesday. However, Ishant Sharma, who is not part of the squad, was seen at nets, bowling to the India batsmen. When asked, a team member said the pacer was called by physio Patrick Farhart for assessment.
Ishant had injured his ankle during the last England Test. Captain Virat Kohli and vice-captain Rohit Sharma also skipped the practice session.