Rahane should stay on as ODI opener, England need an overhaul
If the win in Cardiff was very good, it was comprehensive in Nottingham and England got an absolute thrashing in Birmingham. It showed India got better and better and the last win was an exhibition of a team high on confidence and on top of their game. It looked as if England and India played different brands of One-day cricket. England’s approach looked at least 15 years old while India’s current style saw them accelerating as the game progressed. Their scoring rate kept improving as the ball got older and there was no worry over the asking rate. The England bowlers had no answer. Jimmy Anderson looks an entirely different bowler from the Tests. There wasn’t much swing with the white ball and the body language compared to the Tests was chalk and cheese. Being the senior most bowler, he has to do something different to raise England’s morale.
England’s ODI performance has gone from bad to worse. They have not won anything at home in the last two years and their outlook and personnel will have to change completely. I hope the way India play is an eye-opener and they mould themselves in that manner to push their ODI cricket forward. They also need to identify the player who can hit the ball to some distance even under pressure. There are not many in this team who can and that is creating enormous pressure on the batting unit. Moeen Ali, who played his first game in Birmingham, showed what can happen to opposition bowling when you are positive and look to hit the ball.
India have found a good opener in Ajinkya Rahane. There will be a debate on who should open, Rohit Sharma or Rahane. As much as I feel both should be in the eleven, the amount of runs Rahane has scored overseas will tilt the balance in his favour. I’ve always looked at players who did well against pace in tough conditions and picked them consistently, and Rahane has earned this spot on merit. His technique and shot selection was superb and he showed one did not need big muscles to hit the ball out of the park. His ability to hit the quicks over the top will stand India in good stead in the 2015 World Cup. His form and effortless batting allowed Dhawan to settle down and play at his own pace. And once he got past fifty, the relief of performing well after a while got him going. This is the difference between the two sides in ODI cricket.
India will get an opportunity to try new players in Headingley. Young Karn Sharma should get a game. He is an accurate leg-spinner and if he does well, he can be a huge addition to the side on bouncy pitches. They should also play Sanju Samson. If he is considered a second ‘keeper to Dhoni, then overseas conditions are best to see how he handles pace rather than flat batting conditions in the sub-continent. It will give the selectors answers for some of their questions.
The writer is an ex-India skipper