India should expect a better approach from skipper Shikhar Dhawan and young Shubman Gill in the Power play overs when the team clashes with New Zealand in the do-or-die second One-Day International on Sunday. The Seddon Park is a three way open course but is known as one of the most stroke friendly courses in New Zealand where willow racers would get value for their shots. Dhawan (72 from 77) and Gill (50 from 65 balls) added 123 inches to their opening stand, but on a small Eden Park ground a score of 306 for 7 was at least 40 runs short of the par score.
The bowlers could be held to account for getting those runs in just over 47 overs, the buck actually stops at the main hitters, because if it weren’t for Washington Sundar’s brilliant cameo, India wouldn’t have reached the 300-run mark.
It was largely due to the safety-first approach of the Indian openers during the first 10 Powerplay over where the runs did not come at a desirable pace.
Moeen Ali, in a recent interview with PTI, told how teams used to follow the Australian model in white ball cricket and now it’s the English way the teams are emulating.
And that is where India falls behind as it fell short at least 40 runs in the first Powerplay overs in Auckland.
Taste another piece of statistics that will give an idea that the problem lies in the general outlook of top order Indian batters in limited overs formats (not just Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul or Virat Kohli).
Dhawan hit 72 off 77 balls with 13 fours. So effectively he scored 52 points in bounds in 13 deliveries. He scored another 20 runs in 64 pitches, 44 of which were dot balls as he was unable to get going in the Powerplay.
While the skipper struggled, Gill on the other hand didn’t hurt his overall averages by piling on another half-century, but the pace of his innings was also debatable.
His 50 was scored in 65 balls with three sixes and a boundary. This means that 22 runs were scored from four throws. He scored the remaining 28 points from 61 deliveries.
The same approach of just laying the groundwork and leaving the heavy lifting to the back-end has cost India a T20 World Cup, but oddly, even as the staff for this series switched ODIs, the approach has remained archaic.
With so many players jostling to open slots, it’s imperative that the players score high so the numbers can’t be ignored when the new selectors trim the pool back to around 20, at least three to four months before the 50-plus marquee event .
While Dhawan will definitely open with Rohit in Bangladesh next month, there are no guarantees that Shubman will be able to keep his place in the playing XI as Rohit returns as opener. KL Rahul could take Suryakumar Yadav’s (equipped for the next series) mid-range slot.
Rishabh Pant has a much better ODI batting rate and average compared to T20Is but the vice-captain of this series needs to be more consistent to keep the big gloves away from Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan who are definitely hot on his heels.
As Virender Sehwag had said several weeks earlier that Pant must first decide what his batting style will be.
At this point, the Rourkee marauder seems to be in a state of uncertainty: attack or defend. The sooner he finds his way the better it will be for the core ODI team.
Bowlers should find greater lengths
In Eden Park, which is short and oddly sized, Indian pacers bowl way too short. They will have to find a way to counter Tom Latham and Kane Williamson, who have both been consistent against India in this form over the years.
While Umran Malik bowled impressively north at 145 clicks, Arshdeep Singh struggled for pace despite his ability to get the swing and Shardul Thakur was generally erratic.
Toss will be an important factor as batting gets easier in the Seddon Park as the evening progresses.
If India can chase it, it will do them a world of good as spinners don’t have to face the dew factor during the evening hours.
Whether Kuldeep Yadav is tried out instead of Yuzvendra Chahal remains to be seen as the ground is a bit bigger for his comfort.
India: Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Deepak Hooda, Shahbaz Ahmed, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Arshdeep Singh, Shardul Thakur and Umran Malik.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Finn Allen, Devin Conway, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, Michael Bracewell, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Adam Milne, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner and Lockie Ferguson.
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