Despite the series loss against Australia, the Indian ODI team still had some important takeaways from three games in the last seven days.
The return to international cricket after ten months was not a happy one for the Indian Cricket team. They were thoroughly outplayed by a strong Australian team in the first one-day international games. Virat Kohli’s men responded strongly to clinch a consolation win in the third ODI on December 2.
The poor performances in the first two games could be due to rustiness in the team as there were too many uncharacteristic errors from top players. Moreover, the transition from the Indian Premier League to the 50 over format was too sudden for the team. Despite two underwhelming performances, there were some key takeaways for Men in Blue from this series.
Hardik Pandya has improved tremendously in batting department
India did have Hardik Pandya in the team for all three ODI games, but he was in the squad as a specialist batsman instead of an all-rounder. Pandya is remodeling his bowling injury after recovering from a serious injury, so it will take some time for him to get back to his best.
Despite not contributing with the ball, Pandya stood out in India’s star-studded batting lineup. He ended the series with 210 runs at an average of 105. He is often regarded as a powerful finisher, but this series did show that Pandya can be more than just being a finisher.
When the team was in trouble during the first ODI, Pandya came in and played a matured innings to give his team a chance. In the final ODI, he walked in when the team was in a precarious state. Pandya blended a mix of aggression and caution to take his team to a respectable score. It is the biggest positive of the series as Pandya’s batting continues to go from strength to strength.
India needs to find a way to take wickets in middle overs
In the 12 months before the last world cup, India had cracked the code of restricting the opposition during the middle overs. The spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav used to put teams under tremendous pressure by taking wickets consistently.
However, the drop in form of Yadav has broken this partnership. During the series against Australia, Chahal was also smashed all around the park. The bowling in the first ten overs was tight but the Australian batsmen used to accelerate easily in the middle overs. India needs to find the combination in the bowling department that gives them an edge in this crucial junction of innings. If they don’t address this problem, then they will often find themselves chasing big targets.
Number four spot remains open, but India should stick with Shreyas Iyer
The number four spot in the batting lineup has been an issue for the Indian team for a long time. Shreyas Iyer delivered good performances in this role, however he found it difficult to score runs in Australia. Iyer faced a barrage of short ball deliveries as he finds it difficult to play pull shots consistently. He also failed to capitalize on starts he got in the second and third ODI, ending up with a disappointing tally of 59 runs in three games.
Despite a low scoring series, Iyer needs to be given a long run in this position before coming to a conclusion. There are many options that can fill in the number four position, but patience is needed if India wants to build a good squad for the 2023 World Cup.
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