In­dia set for se­ries of ex­per­i­ments

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - Front Page - Somshu­vra Laha sports­desk@hin­dus­tan­times.com

TEST­ING WATERS Tin­ker­ing with the line­up may have worked against Sri Lanka, move could hurt in ODI se­ries vs Aus­tralia

Aus­tralia come to In­dia at a junc­ture when Vi­rat Kohli and the In­dia team man­age­ment are busy tin­ker­ing with the line-up to cre­ate a bat­ting or­der where any­one can adapt to any po­si­tion. The tim­ing of the ex­per­i­ment though is ques­tion­able.

While it was ac­cept­able to test the waters against a de­pleted team like Sri Lanka, do­ing the same against Aus­tralia may not be wise. Aus­tralia have the se­cond best win per­cent­age in ODIs be­hind Pak­istan on In­dian soil.

And they were also the only team to have won a Test dur­ing In­dia’s in­domitable home run till early this year with a rel­a­tively young side. This Aus­tralia ODI squad may not be able to drop names but the se­lec­tion still makes a lot of sense when pit­ted against In­dia’s.

The only area both In­dia and Aus­tralia have been dealt a ma­jor blow is in the open­ing slot. Peter Hand­scomb doesn’t look a like­for-like re­place­ment of the ex­plo­sive Aaron Finch who is nurs­ing a calf nig­gle.

Hav­ing lost Shikhar Dhawan, Kohli in­sists Ajinkya Ra­hane is best suited for the job de­spite hav­ing Test opener KL Rahul in the ranks. While Ra­hane has opened the bat­ting be­fore too, this ‘ar­range­ment’ is an in­di­ca­tion of Kohli’s long-term plans.

“It takes time, I am not say­ing it is easy,” Kohli said at the pre­match press con­fer­ence on Satur­day. “If you see Jinks (Ra­hane) as well --- he has played in the mid­dle or­der in the ODIs, he plays in the mid­dle or­der in Test matches. He’s also opened a lot in ODIs as well. He also felt that he found it dif­fi­cult to switch. Now we’re back­ing Jinks at the top of the or­der. So, once you get that bal­ance with giv­ing that player more chances, then he gets more con­fi­dent of his role in the team.”

“Till then ob­vi­ously, Man­ish (Pandey) is there as well, Kedar (Jad­hav) is there. So there’ll al­ways be com­pe­ti­tion for a par­tic­u­lar spot. KL is an out­stand­ing tal­ent. And he is some­one that needs to be backed. Be­cause we be­lieve that he has the abil­ity. Once he gets his role done, he’ll start win­ning us games. We’re very sure of that.”

Prob­lem is, Ra­hane would be again left out the day Dhawan re­turns to open­ing the bat­ting for In­dia. With Rahul be­ing schooled to own the No 4 po­si­tion ahead of MS Dhoni, Pandey, Jad­hav and Hardik Pandya, Ra­hane needs to do some­thing bril­liant this se­ries to get him­self back in the fray.

Tak­ing into ac­count the pitches ex­pected to be pre­pared, tak­ing pace off the ball could be a ma­jor weapon in what is billed to be a se­ries full of runs. By call­ing back James Faulkner, Aus­tralia have shown the in­tent to stem that prob­lem.

Thanks to a pro­longed stint with Ra­jasthan Roy­als now per­fected at Gu­jarat Li­ons, Faulkner is one of the crafti­est crick­eters in this for­mat. In­dia’s an­swer to him right now is Pandya who may not be as ex­pe­ri­enced with the ball but can def­i­nitely clear the bound­aries at will.

AFP

In­dia cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli in­ter­acts with team­mates dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion in Chen­nai ahead of the first ODI against Aus­tralia on Sun­day.

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