An ODI series just before the World Cup is an ideal preparation for any team and in the same country which will host the World cup, is just a perfect preparation any team could have asked for. But is it fair on other countries to allow an ODI series just a few days before the World Cup? Al the teams set to play the World Cup, want to know their best eleven before the same, especially in Australian conditions.After two matches where the home team won both the matches, it is time for India and England to step-up their game and try to keep up their name as one of the World Cup favorites. After the test series against Australia,Team India understood, even with a lot of youngsters,our batting line up is one of the best and they also understood that bowling is going to be a huge concern for them. For India to defend the World Cup, their bowling is going to be a key. In the first ODI, Indian batsmen performed decently but they couldn’t post a good score in-spite of Rohit Sharma’s heroics. There is a lot of pressure on Indian batsmen to perform well as their team’s chances of winning a match, rests on them posting a high score on the board. On their day Indian batsmen can absolutely score tons of runs against any team, and this ability ends up piling the pressure on them to post a good score, just about each time they set out to bat.
If we look at India’s batting in the last match, Rohit and Raina were cruising until 34th over where India took the ‘batting power-play’ and Raina went for a slog and lost his wicket. What Raina felt was that a good start to the batting power-play would be a pre-cursor to them posting a good total on the board, which eventually would increase their chances of making it difficult for the opposition to win.However, one important point which each and every batsmen will have to bear in mind before taking a decision to begin the slog is, it is not going to be easy for a new batsmen to come and score runs immediately, especially on tracks Down-Under. Before Raina’s wicket, Indians were cruising towards the score of 300 but with the wicket India were restricted to under 270 which is 30 runs short, and in itself, a huge margin.
The Indian top 6 batsmen are all attack minded and will go for their shots when they think the ball is in their zone which is a great sign for a team who are dependent on their batsmen to win the games. However, going for your shotson Australian tracks, without considering the situation of the team, is definitely leadingyour team into trouble. For posting a high total, not losing wickets with the new ball is critical. With Dhawan at the helm of the line-up and a swinging Kookaburra, India always stand a chance of losing an early wicket, as he is not in good touch and this automatically means Indians are pushed onto back foot early on. This fact surely plays on the minds of the batters to follow and a road-blocktowards posting a big score. One more problem with the current Indian batsmen of this squad is that they lack the experience of Australian tracks, visible in their tendency to play with the full face of the bat, even for a short ball, which is a grave sin when playing away from home. Rahane’s dismissal is a classic example for that.
If Indian batsmen play to their potential, they are unstoppable, just like how Virat and Rahane were in the test series. Given ODI is the preferred format for both of them, means just one of the Indian batsmen can take the game away from the opposition. When Virat is in touch, he is a treat to watch and nobody wants to bowl at him but he tends to go for the shots too soon sometimes like he did in the last match. Losing Virat’s wicket is something Indian team doesn’t want, especially early in the innings, which gives a lot of confidence to the opposition and facing a opposition who are high on confidence is going to be really difficult for the new batsmen.
Indian team may be vulnerable when batting first as they have the pressure to keep a big total on board but when chasing India is the one of the best. Even though the Indian top 6 is very good, the lower order is inexperienced which means, the team cannot peg any hopes on them to assist the top 6.However, most of the buys who bat at the tail, have a proven record in domestic circuit but not much batting experience on pacey and bouncy tracks, which will again be a huge problem for the team. If at least one of them performs, it will be a great help for the team and help make the difference between posting a 270 vs a 300 score on board. Also, in the present line-up, we don’t have the privilege of a Faulkner or a Thisara Perera or a Sammy type hitter who can smash the ball out of the ground at will, which again will be something not any captain would like. It can be argued that Sir Jadeja can hit a few out of the ground, but then consistency is missing there and Axar surely seems to be out of that league as well.
If Indian batsmen can learn from the mistakes they made in the first ODI alone, they can perform a lot better. Inexperienced Indian batsmen can learn loads of important things from this series before they take the ground for the World Cup. (There have been a few positive performances as well like Rohit and Raina which I didn’t mention much in this.)
This is a Guest Post by Navaneeth Kalluru, presently pursuing his Masters in USA. He is a die hard fan of Cricket and Football.