With just over a year to go for the 2019 World Cup, Team India is yet to start preparing for the mega event. The team management is giving it a thought, but currently is happy to go with the flow and momentum they have and everything seems to be hunky dory.
However, when seen with a microscope, there are issues that are plaguing the team and if not addressed in a proper timely manner; can cause the Indian team many problems at the mega event. Though the things are going very well for the Indian team, with their first bilateral ODI series win over South Africa in South Africa, things may unravel quickly for the newly no.1 ranked ODI team.
Here are 5 issues that Team India should address on their road for 2019 World Cup:
Over-dependence on top three batsmen
Currently, Indian team’s batting is looking just like a three trick pony; totally dependent on Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and most importantly Virat Kohli, who has already hit two tons in the series. Dhawan and Rohit too have hit one century each in the series and have been responsible for giving Indian team some flying starts.
However, if one sees closely, there is a pattern forming here. One of the two openers continues scoring the runs and Virat Kohli then joins in the fun and punishes the bowlers. However, this has shown that the Indian batting is highly dependent on the top three to score the majority of runs for the team.
They did the same, as Rohit Sharma, Dhawan and Kohli contributed majorly to the Indian total in the fifth ODI, but the total failed to cross 300.
Unstable middle order
India scored 276 in the fifth ODI and at one time was looking good to cross 300 easily; however, India’s middle order failed again and India fell short by 30 runs.
Ajinkya Rahane has scored 106 runs in 5 matches with the best score of 79, Iyer has scored 48 runs in 2 matches, MS Dhoni has scored 69 runs in 5 matches and Hardik Pandya has scored just 26 runs in 5 matches. Given that the middle order has not got much batting in the chases, the record may seem justified. However, when India has batted first in the last two matches; middle order has failed to continue the momentum.
The biggest problem has been the musical chairs that have been played for the no.4 position in the batting order. Candidates like Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane and even Hardik Pandya have been constantly used and discarded after failing for a single game at the position.
This has meant that there has been instability in the middle order and that has hampered India’s chances to score big totals, batting first. India needs to find a permanent player at no.4 to give the team the sense of confidence that there won’t be a new player at the position to be dealt with in every other game. A strong no.4 batsman will be the key to India’s success in 2019 World Cup.
No designated finisher
With MS Dhoni’s wonder years of hitting big sixes and fours with alarming regularity behind him, India has been on the constant search of a new finisher at no.6. The two candidates who have been given a long run so far are Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav. Both have played at no.6 and no.7 as bowling all-rounders and have shown that they can hit the ball big and long.
MS Dhoni has shown that he is more comfortable in anchoring the innings and taking singles and doubles and his game now suits the no.4 position, but his reputation as a big-hitting finisher has kept him from getting that much-deserved promotion to no.4.
Hardik Pandya has shown that he can hit the ball long, but his weakness against the genuine pace has been unmasked and his consistency has been a big issue. Kedar Jadhav, on the other hand, is more preferred in the team in the role of a finisher and he has shown that he can hit the big shots; however, injury has put him on the bench so far.
India needs to give either Pandya or Jadhav the tag of a designated finisher and get a settled batting lineup for the 2019 World Cup, with every player knowing their roles.
Lapses in Catching
Catching has been a big worry for team India in recent times. We have seen big lapses in catching, both in the outfield and close in during the recently concluded Test series and the ongoing ODI series. Shreyas Iyer had a horrid time, dropping two catches in two matches, one turning the game on its head.
Meanwhile, the Test matches saw Dhawan, Virat, and company dropping sitters in slips and costing India valuable advantage in a closely fought series. Bowlers work hard to create chances and dropping those catches not only cost the team in terms of runs and give the batsmen another chance to carry on the destruction, but also bring down the morale of the bowlers who worked hard.
If not addressed properly, such dropped catches may cost India at crucial junctures during the 2019 World Cup too.
Weak bowling backup for Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah
India currently has a bowling unit that is on a rampage. Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have been wrecking havoc on South African pitches and are the main reason apart from Virat Kohli, that India won the series in South Africa.
But thinking about it, the backup to the fast bowlers looks thin. Umesh Yadav and Mohd Shami have rarely played in the limited overs arena in the last year or so and youngsters like Shardul Thakur, Mohd Siraj and others have made guest appearances here and there.
This means that if India needs to rest Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar or if any one of them gets injured, India will have to rely on either inexperienced fast bowlers or experienced fast bowlers who are out of form. Therefore, India needs to address this issue keeping the 2019 World Cup in mind.
India definitely needs atleast 3-4 more match ready fast bowlers in backup along with Shami and Umesh Yadav; who can be put into the match and can perform to their best levels.
Though Indian team management wants to keep experimenting with the team combination, they need to address the above-mentioned issues and have a steady team of 15 players that will play in the 2019 World Cup, with backups for almost every position in the team.