India’s gameplan: Change is need of the hour

Down 2-0 in the series, India will need to plan differently in order to stay alive.

Written by Devendra Pandey | Melbourne | Updated: January 17, 2016 6:53:26 am
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INDIA have tried a couple of things in the first two ODIs but haven’t been able to change the ultimate result. They have managed to notch up 300-plus scores but their bowlers haven’t been able to do much on these tracks. If they lose on Sunday, Australia take the series. India will have to think out of the box, even if it comes with high risk. As they look out for their first win to keep the series alive, here are some options the Indian side could consider.

Ashwin with new ball

Considering that barring left-arm seamer Barinder Sran none of the seamers have managed to have any impact and Ashwin himself has struggled a bit in the middle overs to impose himself, India could go with the old ploy of making him bowl with the new ball. Australian batsmen have milked him for singles and twos in the middle overs and will be forced to do something different if he is given the new ball. He was expensive in the first game in Perth, after being introduced in the 18th over of the chase. He was much better in the second, but the wickets came late. Perhaps, he could be given the new(ish) ball. He has often done in the ODIs in the past, and regularly does it in the IPL. This way he can get at the openers when they are fresh at the crease, and haven’t settled by the time he comes on to bowl in the middle overs. If he can get some bounce going early, and make Aaron Finch or Shaun Marsh do something different in trying to attack him, he might get a breakthrough. India need to try something different as the status quo is doing them no good.

Rishi, Gurkeerat — new options

It’s an option that India’s captain isn’t fully convinced of yet. He doesn’t see these two all-rounders as the ones who could do the job for India in the long run. But the situation can be looked at in two different ways. If this ODI team selection was made looking at long term, as opposed to the T20 team that has been picked keeping the T20 World Cup in mind, then what’s the harm in giving these youngsters a chance? After all they have been picked in the team, and deserve the right to succeed or fail. The second prism is that desperate times need desperate measures. When nothing else is working, why not try out something new? India have a long batting line but one all-rounder will certainly give more options in mediumpace bowling. Dhoni tried Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in the past two games, but they haven’t been effective. Rishi Dhawan has been travelling with the Indian team but in Brisbane, during the nets session, he was only asked to bowl when Umesh Yadav and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar came to bat. Gurkeerat can bat and bowl off-spin but one has to wait and see what Dhoni thinks.

Yadav or Bhuvneshwar

If Umesh Yadav continues to be erratic, and can’t provide control to Dhoni on flat tracks, may be it will be better to bring back Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The Uttar Pradesh bowler sparkled in the last IPL with his ability to bowl at the death, and with his yorkers in particular. He had worked hard to learn and perfect that skill and he could probably be given a chance to play in the Sunday game just for that ability. The Indian bowlers have been practising yorkers in the nets — two shoes are kept at the batting crease and they are asked to ping them. It’s time to execute that skill in match time.

Time to chase
Virat Kohli, and by extension India, made a name by the icy-cool approach to the chase. However, these days, they seem to prefer to set a target and apply scoreboard pressure on the opposition. But when the bowling is ordinary, and without much imagination, it’s perhaps time to go back to the chase approach. Considering that the batsmen are finding it a bit tough to identify what’s a good target, and go for it, they might be better off chasing down a big score.

Reading the riot act

You expect the bowlers to struggle on flat tracks. But you don’t expect your opening batsman to fail on these pitches. Shikhar Dhawan has once again been a let-down, just like he was in the ODI series against South Africa. Melbourne is the city where Dhawan lives with his wife, and India will most likely give him one more chance at his home. But if Dhoni wants to send a strong message across that one can’t just drift along with the occasional performances, this is as good a time as any. India can send Ajinkya Rahane to open the batting and he has the technique and the game to score against the new ball.

Batting target 340

The India captain thinks that the time has come to think bigger with the target setting and he is right. With the series decider coming up on Sunday, a safe approach of looking at 300 should be shelved and the higher risk target of 350 should be considered. In going for 350, the team might fold up for far lesser score but that’s the risk India have to take at this juncture in this series. In fact, it will also help them in the long term as they are bound to play on flat tracks in ODIs. A target re-assessment seems to be in order considering the way things have panned out so far.
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