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Going in to a One-Day International (ODI) series after getting thrashed in the Tests prior to it is extremely tough for any team. But Abhijit Banare argues that India still can spring up a surprise.
The reactions to the Indian cricket team dismal performances in the Tests and the sense of scepticism surrounding it is similar, if not as much, to what England were eight months ago. While everyone called for Alastair Cook’s head after the Ashes whitewash, finding supporters of MS Dhoni’s captaincy is also like searching needle in a haystack these days. Under normal circumstances, any team heading in to an ODI series after such a loss would be low on confidence. It would be no different for the Indian team. Yet somewhere down the line, they’ll be aware that this will their best chance to regain the lost pride.
Pitch conditions: After a barrage of criticism from all sides, the Indian team would be delighted to read a tweet from David Lloyd which hinted that the pitch for the first two ODIs could be a flat deck and on the slower side, typical of the conditions in the subcontinent.
First 2 pitches in ODI’s perfect for India …flat and slow …
— David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd (@BumbleCricket) August 19, 2014
Captaincy?: When Dhoni comes out to bat in Tests, there’s an uneasy feeling that a wicket is round the corner. The tables turn when he’s out to bat in ODIs. And predictably, it reflects in his captaincy as well. While he continues to be reactive more often, he keeps his patience and the ‘cool-as-a-cucumber’ approach which has worked well in limited overs where the pressure is of a different nature than the Tests. Dhoni averages 48.57 in ODI’s overseas compared to his overall average of 53.28. Though his average in England is 37.36, Dhoni is a different batsman altogether in the limited-overs format. His technique no longer becomes an issue and his ability to steer the innings is laudable.
Cause of worry: If there’s anything to truly worry about, it’s the batsmen. Four of the certainties in the batting have been mauled in the Tests. While Ajinkya Rahane and Dhoni seem to be doing well, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli have to put the hard yards. Technically exposed by James Anderson in Tests, India will be in a risk of falling two down early if they don’t find their form in limited overs. Anderson loves to have a crack at left-handers and with Dhawan still tentative, things could get worse. However, they’ve the option of inserting a young Sanju Samson in. On their last tour, it was Rahane who made a mark with a few fluent innings and this series could just see the start of a new career.
Indian pacers: For a long time now, a weak Indian pace attack has been blamed for India’s losses. Yet the current form suggests it’s the bowling which can bail them out. A certain Bhuvneshwar Kumar has showed the character to fight it out when those around him faltered. Varun Aaron has provided a fresh feel to the pace since Mohammed Shami‘s erratic show. And when it comes to limited overs, it’s no secret as to who Dhoni’s trusted lieutenants are. The duo of Ravichandran Ashwin-Ravindra Jadeja will be a completely different picture than in Tests. And finally, there’s a certain Umesh Yadav who has forced his way back into the opposition. With the pace of Aaron, Yadav and swing of Bhuvneshwar, India have the ammunition in the bowling.
India’s recent overseas ODI results haven’t been impressive either. They failed to win anything in South Africa and New Zealand. There is every reason for the Indian fan to doubt India’s fortunes in the days to come. But unlike many Test debacles where India have looked clueless afterwards, Dhoni and co. have fought back well when the wind is blowing against them in limited overs.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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