SANDIPAN BANERJEE | 2 FEBRUARY, 2018
It won’t be easy for the South Africans to dominate the India bowling
Indian Limited-Overs Squad Can End South African Jinx
In the just-concluded Test series in South Africa, the lack of clarity in picking the ideal playing eleven hurt India’s chances badly.
There was uncertainty all around in choosing the right player for the right condition and the visitors had to pay a heavy price for it in Cape Town as well as at Centurion.
However, when it comes to limited-overs’ cricket, the team think-tank seems quite assured regarding its selection policies. Going into the six-match ODI series in South Africa, this aspect is India’s biggest plus point.
These days in white ball cricket, pitches around the world are becoming quite flat. Rarely we encounter a bowling friendly wicket. Thus, it allows India to play more or less play its tried and tested squad across all conditions. On Thursday (February 1) picking two wrist sp
inners in the Durban ODI has been a classic example of that assurance and confidence on the part of the Indian team management.
Overall, a closer look in India’s current limited-overs' squad reveals that it is more or less a settled unit and there is depth in quality, in all three departments, which creates a healthy competition for spots in the team.
In Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, India have arguably the best top-three in the world in white-ball cricket. Meanwhile, after them, a permanent option for the No. 4 spot in the batting department still remains a puzzle. In fact, for that one particular position, the team is carrying four options — Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik, Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey.
Prior to the Durban ODI, skipper Virat Kohli addressed this issue and revealed that at this point, the team is looking at Rahane to do the job.
"I had said earlier that Ajinkya will be looked at as a third opener, but that situation can change because he has batted at No. 4 in a World Cup before," Kohli said in his pre-match presser, "These conditions are such that you get to play fast bowling throughout the innings so he becomes a strong candidate for No. 4. “
He further spoke about the other options for that position and the possibilities of the team management trying them out as we go further in the series.
“Other than that [Rahane] we have Shreyas [Iyer], Manish [Pandey], Kedar [Jadhav] can play No. 5 and 6, Hardik [Pandya] is there, and MS [Dhoni] is obviously there. We have kept all these options open, we don't want to be one-dimensional. It depends whose technique is more suited to what spot. Especially in that particular country. All options are open," Kohli said.
With so much of quality options in its ranks, the Indian batting is looking as strong as it can get. Most importantly, these batsmen are far more assured about their shot selections, when they play in coloured clothing.
Also, as we have seen in Durban, the wickets in the limited-overs' leg of the tour are expected to be far more batting friendly than what we experienced during the Test series. Hence, the Indian batsmen should get into the grooves quickly here.
Talking about the bowling, the top three pacers in this Indian limited-overs' squad — Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, and Mohammed Shami — were a part of the Test team as well. So, after spending more than a month in South Africa, they know what is an ideal length in these conditions and also the strengths and weaknesses of the Protea batsmen. So, the Test experience of these pacers can prove to be quite handy here for Kohli’s team.
Furthermore, like we have seen in the first ODI, the spin twin of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav can trouble their batting line-up even on these non-responsive pitches.
So, overall it won’t be easy for the South Africans to dominate the India bowling. And the absence of AB De Villiers for the first three games is a huge blow for them.
India have never won a bilateral ODI series in South Africa. In fact, out of 28 ODIs against the host in this part of the world, the Men in Blue have only five victories. However, after analyzing the Indian team for the series, the writer believes, it is a perfect opportunity for Kohli’s men to break the jinx in this country.