Going by the last two games, including this (happily) abandoned one, this largely young Indian team seems somewhat out of its depth against the world champions.
But, hang on, aren’t we also the world champions of the T20 format? Well, we were decimated in our favourite version but of course, that can happen once in a while, so perhaps no one should read too much into it. Most of our young batsmen had just flown in and were possibly jet-lagged. That brings us to the first ODI. India opted to play a batsman-heavy side on a seamer-friendly wicket. They preferred Manoj Tiwary, who’d flown in at the last minute as cover for the injured Yuvraj Singh, over the original members. Tiwary obviously wasn’t in the scheme of things when this squad was picked or he would’ve been picked ahead of both Raina and Karthik. So it was baffling to see him take the field ahead of the other two.
What was more interesting was the decision to bat first, especially when you’re opting for a batting heavy side. That only suggests two things. One, you’re backing your batsmen to set a huge total and hence playing a bowler or two less might not matter in the end while defending a 300 plus score. Or two — you have no faith in your top six to last 50 overs and are hence forced to play the extra bat. If it was the former, then the decision to bat first was surprising, because you’d rather chase a total posted against your weaker bowling attack than run the risk of the opposition overhauling the target thanks to one less frontline bowler. Unless the decision to go in with an extra bat was influenced by the way our youngsters batted on Friday.
There’s been talk about how this is India’s best one-day team at the moment and the future of Indian cricket. By the selectors’ own warped logic, the seniors (for the most) aren’t delivering and therefore, out, resulting in what is a forced transition.
To some extent, they are right. Modern one-day cricket is a lot about agility, fitness, fielding and running between wickets but then, aren’t we forgetting a key facet of the game, i.e. scoring runs?
Speed isn’t the only thing you need for running quick singles, first and foremost, you need to be a good judge of the run.
Australia are not the best because they have the youngest side in the world but because they make the best use of their skills and their players are mature enough to handle pressures. Fielding a young side and showing faith in it is great but have the youngsters done enough to earn a national cap? Have they set the world alight in domestic cricket for more than a couple of seasons? And finally, have they consistently won matches for India outside of the T20s? It bears some thinking.