The rain may have saved India at Sydney on Monday, but the Indians will still have to play out of their skins to get the better of England, who literally thrashed them the last time the two teams met. Unlike in the Tests matches, India have not at all been competitive in the one-dayers. Their batting was somewhat impressive in the five-day format, but in the ODIs both their batting and the bowling has suffered miserably. If India lose, it would mean that it would be their last international match before the World Cup. Thus, they must experiment as much as possible.
The opening slot is undoubtedly one of the biggest worries for the Indian team. The selectors decided against having an extra opener in the squad for the World Cup, pinning all their hopes on Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma. But, the lack of runs from Dhawan is proving to be a massive handicap for the team. The only option they have left now is to try him in the middle order, and push someone else to open. Rohit got a fantastic century in India’s first game of the tri-series, but it is not the first time that he has got himself injured after one good knock. His lack of fitness also doesn’t augur well for the team.
Team India also need to take a call on the number three spot. In all games so far, Virat Kohli has batted two down, with Ambati Rayudu coming in ahead of him in two of the games. Whatever the logic behind the move, it hasn’t worked since Kohli has tasted two failures in a row, an extremely rare occurrence for him in ODIs. As for Rayudu, he too hasn’t looked comfortable at the number three position. He will be better off batting lower down the order, going by his performances.
The middle and lower order should also worry India. In both the finished games, they collapsed to allow the opponents to easily win the matches. Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni will be key for India in the middle overs. While the left-hander has been successful in getting a half-century, Dhoni has looked out of sorts in the middle. The lack of runs from him will be worrying India. Team India would also be hoping that Ravindra Jadeja gets a hit against England, for he cannot be rusty going into the World Cup.
Bowling will not be the least of India’s concerns going into Friday’s clash at Perth. It has been India’s Achilles heel ever since they arrived in Australia. Ishant Sharma was finally fit for the Sydney match, but unfortunately the game got rained out, and he couldn’t get a bowl. India would be hoping for better luck in the match against England. Clearly, the ploy of opening with Stuart Binny cannot be a serious tactic going into the World Cup. Somehow, India need to sort out their bowling woes. If they indeed do, that will be nothing short of a miracle.
--By A Cricket Analyst