My Thoughts

Lots of positives for India but there are few things still to iron out

Posted on: January 16, 2023

2023 is an important year of all teams as they prepare for the marquee event. Every series and every game is viewed as preparation of the major tournament and to iron out flaws with the team combination. India is no different. In 2022 the biggest criticism the Indian team received was that they tinkered with the team combination too much. The team tried to play too many games and by trying to use their enormous talent pool, they just created too many versions of the same LO team. The result was there to see as India struggled to come up with one proper T20 side and the confusion caused an unbalanced team for the World Cup once again.

This is not the first time India have done something like this, the 2021 T20 WC and the 2019 ODI WC were products of the same confusion which led to confusing team selections in important games. So far in 2023 India seems to have steered clear of such confusions. The selectors and team management seem to be displaying much clearer thinking than the past years and it is showing with some consistent selections in this format. Even though there are a few spots still to be confirmed the skeleton of the team looks much more consistent that in 2019.

India were never going to be challenged against a struggling Sri Lanka team at home but again the focus was as to how the team was going to perform and if they can be ruthless. The answer to that question was provided by a very clinical and ruthless win at Thiruvananthapuram last night. The batting on a pitch which isn’t considered as the best in India was phenomenal and the bowling capped off a perfect day for the home team. The biggest positive for India other than Virat Kohli is the faith shown by the team management on Shubman Gill as the opener. Gill has been brilliant over the last year or so and for sure deserved a chance to partner Rohit Sharma in this format. He showed why ODI is his best format once again by scoring 207 runs in the series with a century and a fifty.

The biggest positive for India in regards to the batting is the form of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Virat Kohli has been in tremendous white ball form for the past few months and the fact that he is scoring hundreds again should please both the fans and the management. Virat Kohli scoring runs at number 3 is a huge boost for the Indian top order. Rohit Sharma as well has looked in great nick since he made his comeback after injury. He has been aggressive at the top and will be disappointed to not convert those starts into a big one. Rohit seems to have formed a great partnership with Shubman Gill and hope India do not tinker with that combination.

The other big positive for India has been the consistent selection of the bowling attack. Mohammed Siraj has once again proven that he is India’s best LO bowler presently. He swings the new ball and picks wickets in the power play which is what India lacked in white ball formats. Mohammed Shami is a question mark still but he has been decent with the ball. India also will be happy with the performance of Umran Malik, who has bowled with lots of pace and has picked wickets in the middle overs. Hardik Pandya has looked good as well even though he did not pick too many wickets. Kuldeep Yadav making a comeback and picking wickets again is a huge plus for the Indian bowling attack as wickets in the middle overs will be crucial in the world cup.

There are still a few things the Indian team needs to iron out. KL Rahul despite his very good 60 odd not out is still a question mark as he hasn’t been that consistent over the last year or so. The selection of Surya Kumar Yadav is also another thing India needs to address as he is an impact player in white ball formats. Ishan Kishen who scored a double hundred in his last ODI game also needs to be in the picture as he provides a left-hand option at the top of the order. While India do need to try out different combinations in the lead up to the World Cup it is imperative that India decide on their best XI as well. Jasprit Bumrah will return soon and so will Ravindra Jadeja and India would need to pick the right attach for the tournament.

Right now as far as the pace attack goes only Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah are a lock for the WC playing XI. Hardik Pandya will be the pace bowling all-rounder but again India need to pick from a host of pacers for the rest of the spots. Mohammed Shami has been patchy and his fitness is a huge issue. Arshdeep Singh provides India with a left-arm variation but again he hasn’t played too may ODIs. Umran Malik has been brilliant with his express pace and needs to be persisted with. So quite a few headaches for the Indian team management. The spin combination also needs to be finalised with 3 finger-spinners probably vying for two spots in the squad. Washington Sundar & Axar Patel are probably fighting for one spot in the squad as Ravindra Jadeja when fit will walk into the playing XI. Chahal & Kuldeep will mostly be the two wrist spinners as India haven’t tried too many others in recent times.

India will need to avoid the mistakes of their previous selection debacles and make sure that right people are selected in the WC squad. This series for sure has provided India will a great insight as to who those players might be but again the team management should make sure that there isn’t too much of chopping and changing of the core players to maintain the consistency ahead of the tournament.

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