As India prepare to take on Bangladesh in a dead rubber on Wednesday, we take a look at five concerns the Men in Blue would like to address in the last match of the series.
Pace battery: Indian seamers stole the show during India’s 2015 World Cup campaign. The first two ODIs have been nothing but ordinary for the likes of Umesh Yadav, who played only the first game, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. We are playing in the sub-continent but Mustafizur Rahman showed that bowling, with a bit of application, works on any surface and against any batting line-up.
Middle-order: India’s middle-order was their strength during the World Cup. Even if the openers failed, the likes of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane ensured they steadied the ship and allow the Dhonis and Rainas to accelerate the scoring towards the end. This didn’t happen in the first two ODIs and it will be good for the side, ending their season with this tour, to end on a high, with a win and a couple of tons.
Intensity: This Indian unit, may be because of fatigue, is lacking intensity. The chirping is not there and the shoulders seem to dip when the opposition dictates terms. The lack of activity in the inner ring is not a good sign, especially for a team which has players who enjoy banter in the middle.
Combination: Dhoni made it clear at the post-match presser after the second ODI that this is the best lot of players India has. It’s now important for the skipper to find out his best combination. We saw in the last game that the move to play two left-arm spinners didn’t quite work. While Ajinkya Rahane looks certain to make the XI, it’s unlikely that both Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel will feature. The think-tank might go back to the first ODI combination where they played three seamers. Dhawal Kulkarni is expected to retain his place, so is Bhuvneshwar Kumar. It will be interesting to see whether Umesh Yadav or Mohit Sharma makes the cut.
Experiment: It won’t be a bad idea to rejig the batting order a bit. Say Suresh Raina coming ahead of MS Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane or Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja, if he plays, getting a longer hit in the middle. India should try to make most of this opportunity and instill confidence in players who have struggled of late. While the top three should stay as it is, no. 4, 5, 6 can be shuffled for the dead rubber.