Following the crushing defeat in the ODI series opener against Sri Lanka at Dharamsala, Team India have arrived in Mohali on Monday (December 11) to play a do or die encounter amidst a burden of expectations.
India were bundled out for a mere 112 in just 38.2 overs after being put into bat by the new Sri Lankan captain Thisara Perera. India’s top order found it difficult to get going on a wicket where there was something for the seamers. Half of the Indian batters were sent back packing at a score of 16 with none of them being able to reach the double-digit. If it was not for MS Dhoni’s hard-fought 65, the Men in Blue could have been bowled out for 50.
Dhoni’s innings, however, wasn't enough as Sri Lanka completed the chase in just 20.4 overs and consequently took a 1-0 lead in a three-match ODI series.
Speaking to Hindustan Times ahead of the second ODI, legendary India captain Sourav Ganguly said that he was not sure if India fielded their best team in Dharamsala.
“Whatever happened in Dharamsala was an aberration and we all know the capability of these batsmen. What is worrying me though, is, are India playing the best team? I know it will seam in Mohali too -- since it’s an 11.30am start -- and India must play Ajinkya Rahane at No.3. He should have played in Dharamsala too because he has the ability to play in such conditions. So, I am a little curious to know why he didn’t play,” Ganguly told Hindustan Times over the phone.
“There isn’t much difference in the jobs of Nos. 1-3 in ODIs. So, going by the conditions in Dharamsala and Mohali, it is imperative Rahane plays at No.3. In fact, to my mind, both Rahane and KL Rahul (not in the squad) should be playing more and more ODIs. When Virat comes back at No.3, there will still be slots at Nos.4 and 5 (with Dhoni at No.6) and if you are looking at the World Cup 2019, I would want the selectors and team management to back Rahane and Rahul. They have proved themselves in the past and I think they will make the middle-order more productive,” Dada further added.
India have been in the hunt for solid middle-order batsman since the start of the year. Ganguly feels Virat’s absence in this series can bring opportunities to others.
“Virat has played for so long and he needed rest. People like Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey should use the opportunities and score big. But I do somehow feel they have to raise (the level of) their batting in such trying conditions. That’s why I want the selectors to allow Rahane and Rahul 25-30 ODI games leading up to the World Cup. They will get used to those positions,” the Prince of Kolkata opined.
The 45-year-old also issued warning that seamers may again cause trouble for the Indian batters in Mohali since it is an 11 AM start.
“An early start in Mohali would mean the ball will swing and seam with all the moisture around and with two new balls being used from either end, Rohit and Shikhar have to play out the phase. Once settled, batsmen will enjoy hitting through the line on the Mohali wicket,” Ganguly concluded.