India, March 14: India’s home series against Australia was supposed to be a trail for India, in which they could conduct last-minute experiments before the World Cup. However, they ended up not just losing the series but also groping for answers when it comes to team selection for the mega event.
DOES PANT FIT IN?
Before the series, ‘keeper-bat Rishabh Pant emerged as a strong contender to travel with the Indian team along with MS Dhoni. However, the 21-year-old endured a forgettable time in the two matches that he played in. Though he cracked 36 off 24 balls at Mohali, he missed a couple of stumping chances, which promoted the crowd to chant ‘Dhoni, Dhoni.’ In the final ODI, he managed just 16 before falling to off-spinner Nathan Lyon at first slip. The question is, was this talented young gun given enough opportunities to prove himself? Wasn’t it tough on him to get just two games to book a World Cup berth?
RAHUL THIRD OPENER?
After making an impressive return to international cricket with 50 & 47 in the two T20 Internationals, KL Rahul would have been looking to get a few runs in the ODIs and seal his spot as the third opener. However, the poor form of the regular openers meant that Rahul got just one game, in which he managed 26. Even in that match, he played at No 3. Certainly, Rahul isn’t cut out for the No 4 slot, and hasn’t got enough game time as an opener. An Ajinkya Rahane, perhaps, would have offered the option of a middle order bat who can open if needed too, but he wasn’t even picked and seems to have been discarded for good.
CHAHAL UNDER PRESSURE
Before this series, leg-spinner Yuzuvendra Chahal was an automatic pick, who had won India ODIs in South Africa and Australia. However, once Glenn Maxwell tore into him at Bangalore in the second T20 International, where he went for 47 runs in four overs, Kohli has appeared reluctant to play Chahal. He was played at Mohali, but he went for 80 in 10 overs. With Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav picking wickets regularly and Ravindra Jadeja standing out with his superb bowling and .fielding, there now appears to be a slight doubt over Chahal’s spot. What will work for him is the fact that there are no d/n games in England, hence no dew.
NO. 4 SLOT STILL A WORRY
After an impressive run in New Zealand, it seemed as if Ambati Rayudu had sealed his spot in the World Cup team, thereby solving the problem of the No 4 spot, a perennial headache for the team management. The 33-year-old, however, struggled badly, managing just 33 runs (13, 18 & 2) in three games before he was dropped. There’s an argument that Shankar can bat at No. 4 instead of him in the World Cup, but then Rayudu enjoys an an average of 47.05 in 55 games. The problem is, even if he does go to England, Rayudu would be under-confident as he’s short of runs.
IS SHANKAR THE ALL-ROUNDER?
He performed decently with the bat but played a poor shot when he could have taken the game to the distance in Delhi. Questions also remain over his ability as a bowler, despite his heroics in Nagpur, while defending 11 runs. In the next two games, Shankar didn’t get a single wicket, and in the last match, he wasn’t given a single over. With the ball expected to swing and seam in England, he may be a useful player to have in the World Cup. (Agencies)