Ajinkya Rahane, skipper of the Indian team, is one of the key batsmen in the lineup © IANS
Ajinkya Rahane, skipper of the Indian team, is one of the key batsmen in the lineup © IANS

India will commence their tour of Zimbabwe with the first One-Day International (ODI) at Harare on July 10. With the side packed with batsmen, Shiamak Unwalla feels the only major headache India face is that of the batting order.

India have put together a side that does not have a lot of international experience, but it is a team that makes up for it with sheer talent. Nearly every member of the squad has played domestic cricket for at least six years (Sandeep Sharma and Akshar Patel are the only exceptions), and are established members of their respective state teams.

The bowling is stretched a bit thin, with Sandeep, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, and Stuart Binny being the pace options and Harbhajan Singh, Akshar, and Karn Sharma being the spinners.

However, India’s batting is far more diverse. There is no frontline wicketkeeper in the side, which means that Robin Uthappa is almost certainly going to perform the role. It will be interesting to see whether he will also open batting, and if so with whom. Murali Vijay — by now a stalwart in India’s Test team — is also in the squad. He and Uthappa are the likely options to open batting for India.  Read: Ajinkya Rahane wants MS Dhoni’s calmness and Virat Kohli’s controlled aggression

That being said, India are being captained by Ajinkya Rahane, who has traditionally done well as an opener. Where Rahane slots himself to bat will be interesting to see. Rahane knows that Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are all but established openers in a full-strength Indian team, so even if he does exceedingly well in the series he is unlikely to open once India plays to their full strength. On the other hand, Rahane has a rather unimpressive record in the middle order.  READ: India tour of Zimbabwe 2015: Will the Ajinkya Rahane gamble work?

If Rahane chooses to open, that would mean either Uthappa or Vijay dropping down or missing out entirely. What Rahane could do is bat at No. 3. Virat Kohli has shown that he has no qualms batting at No. 4, so if Rahane clicks coming in one-down, that could be an option India can consider for the future. READ:India select a perfect squad for tour of Zimbabwe

Coming back to the series in Zimbabwe, India also have in their side the likes of Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, and Manoj Tiwary. Rayudu is very much in the current scheme of things for India in ODIs , making him a certain feature in the line-up. This means that only two from the crop of Tiwary, Jadhav, and Pandey will get to play. Tiwary is perhaps the senior-most of the lot, which could work in his favour.

As for the No. 7 position, Binny and Akshar are the most obvious candidates. Binny is perhaps the better batsman, but it will really come down to whether India want a seaming all-rounder or a spinning one. Of course there is also a chance both will play.

India have a steady — though not explosive — batting line-up. Rahane and Uthappa are the ones with the most ODI experience, but even they have played fewer than 100 matches put together. Zimbabwe will feel they are in with an excellent chance of pulling off an upset. If the Indians bat to their full potential an extremely close contest is on the cards.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)