After a long gap of almost nine months, the Indian cricket team will be seen in action when they take on Australia Down Under for a full-fledged ODI, T20I, and Test series. The ODIs will begin from November 27, and we look at the SWOT analysis of the Men in Blue for the three games.
Team India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (vice-captain & wicket-keeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur
Strengths: The middle order has always been the biggest Achilles Heel for the Men in Blue over the last few seasons. However, they have managed to assemble a strong unit for the upcoming games, with the middle order looking balanced and settled. In the absence of Rohit Sharma, who is nursing a hamstring injury and has been excluded from the limited-over series, it is expected that Mayank Agarwal will open the batting with Shikhar Dhawan. Virat Kohli will take his usual spot at three, while Shreyas Iyer has emerged as the team’s answer to the number four woes.
KL Rahul can be used as a floater – he has fared well across positions in the last three ODI series’ – while Hardik Pandya is the ideal finisher at number six. The bench too looks promising, with Shubman Gill and Manish Pandey in the ranks.
The fast bowling appears menacing with the duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami alongside Navdeep Saini displaying their skills in the recent IPL.
Weaknesses: The biggest weakness in the team appears to be Kuldeep Yadav. The chinaman spinner has had two disastrous IPL campaigns with Kolkata Knight Riders and was benched for the major part of the season this year, with Varun Chakravarthy taking on the role of the lead spinner in the KKR set-up.
The third seamer could prove to be a major weak link in the side as well. With Hardik Pandya, not bowling, Kohli will have to pick either Saini or Shardul Thakur in the XI. While the duo has been accurate of late, they are prone to leaking runs, especially in the death overs. Pandya, not bowling also means that none of the top six in the side can bowl, which leaves very little margin for error for the five bowlers.
Opportunities: The biggest opportunity has been presented to Gill and Mayank – the two candidates who are expected to open the innings in the absence of Rohit. While Mayank was in excellent form in the recent IPL and played spectacular knocks for his franchise Kings XI Punjab, Gill has been touted as a future star who has plenty of potential. With Rahul likely to bat in the middle-order, one of Gill or Mayank will open alongside Dhawan, and a good showing in the tough conditions of Australia could open further doors for them.
There are not many expectations from either Saini or Thakur, who have blown hot and cold in domestic games. While Thakur did not have the best IPL season, Saini was impressed with his accuracy but was prone to leaking runs as well. The duo will have plenty of responsibility as the lack of a batting all-rounder in the side means there is hardly any scope to make errors.
Threats: As mention earlier, Hardik’s injury and his inability to bowl will hurt the side’s balance. Ravindra Jadeja now is a sure-shot selection in the XI due to his all-round skills, but the left-arm spinner did not have the best season with the ball in the IPL. Yuzvendra Chahal, Bumrah and Shami can be banked upon, but Jadeja and the third seamer (Saini or Thakur), and their performance, could well determine the series.
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