Former India pacer Zaheer Khan has said that the Men in Blue are still uncertain about their best ODI playing XI and they need to fix it ahead of the all-important 2019 World Cup, slated to be held in England.
Even though Team India are doing wonders in ODI cricket lately, the hunt for a reliable No. 4 batsman still continues. Since the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, the team management has tried out as many as six batsmen in the vital batting position.
The likes of Yuvraj Singh, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya have been given opportunities to seal the key batting slot. Most of them have had their fair share of good moments at No. 4, but none of them really managed to make the crucial batting position his own.
In the ongoing ODI series against the West Indies, Ambati Rayudu has been given the chance to bat at No. 4 and the right-hander lived up to the expectations of team management thus far, amassing the scores of 22*, 73, 22 and 100 in four innings. However, it will be interesting to see how Rayudu adjusts his game in the forthcoming away series against Australia and New Zealand.
Besides, Team India are still uncertain about their third pacer before the World Cup. In a bid to try out a few combinations in the playing XI, Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav were given a chance to play as premier pacers against the Windies. However, skipper Virat Kohli was forced to take the services of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah as the Indian bowlers conceded more than 300+ in the first two ODIs.
Speaking to Cricbuzz, Zaheer said, “I don’t think this is the best line up, the best playing XI, they still don’t have the clarity. That’s why this trial is also going on; they are still figuring out their options. But the key questions have remained the same, something which is a concern.”
“I think here the options are plenty; it’s just that in terms of the process of what happens when things are not going your way. When things are going your way you see the typical classic case, where your fast bowlers take early wickets and then you have spin in the middle overs which gives you three wickets, and the opponents are completely out of the game,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Men in Blue have also juggled around their all-rounders especially since Hardik Pandya’s injury, making way for the likes of Kedar Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja. Moreover, MS Dhoni’s form in ODI cricket is a huge cause of concern for Team India. In 2018, Dhoni is averaging 25 in ODI cricket from 19 matches.
Following the West Indies series, India’s next ODI assignment is in Australia. It will be interesting to see how the No. 2 ranked side work on finalizing their playing XI for ODIs well before the 2019 World Cup.