Cricket

India mulls team composition before key match

India's Stuart Binny plays a shot during the one-day International cricket match between England and India in Brisbane, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)

India's Stuart Binny plays a shot during the one-day International cricket match between England and India in Brisbane, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)   | Photo Credit: Tertius Pickard

The Indian cricket team left for Perth on Tuesday, keeping in mind the need to overcome batting and bowling worries ahead of a virtual semifinal against England in the tri-series on Friday.

It practiced for two days here, and rested for another two, with the match abandoned on Monday. The team management was thus able to achieve a balance between time-off and time spent on the field, whilst gaining two points without much sweat.

The Men in Blue did miss out an opportunity, though, to test their new-found bowling combination. At Melbourne, skipper M.S. Dhoni had chosen three medium-pacers and two spinners. At Brisbane, there were three medium-pacers, one spinner and Stuart Binny played all-rounder. Thanks to his individual good showing against England, he was retained in the XI, with two spinners and two medium pacers the preferred combination at Sydney.

It could point towards Dhoni’s new-found confidence in Binny’s ability, particularly since he is also part of the World Cup squad, and the skipper has professed the need for a swing-bowling all-rounder.

In the meantime, a new ploy emerged within this chosen bowling combination. On Sunday, in his pre-match conference, Dhoni had said that both Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja were available for selection. He had also hinted that they won’t be playing since there was no need to push players with niggles and hurt their chances ahead of the World Cup.

Jadeja in particular was under the scanner since his fielding ability from the deep was still under some doubt, as per the skipper. Also, he was seen leaving for the hotel with his left shoulder wrapped up and an ice-pack in place. Clearly he was a non-starter, yet at the toss he found a place in the playing XI.

Did the team management presume that the England game in Perth would be their only shot at making the final and all experimentation needed to be done by Monday? If so, the selection of two left-arm spinners — Jadeja and Axar Patel — in the same XI is perfectly understandable.

With India’s ploy of playing six batsmen, R Ashwin becomes handy with his batting in the lower-order. But in Jadeja’s absence, Patel has shown some brilliant control, first in home conditions and then in the first two matches here.

He has also been given a chance to bat at number seven, to find his footing with the bat in hand. So far, it hasn’t worked, for Patel has found out that batting in the IPL isn’t the same as batting in Australia.

Given more chances he will improve of course, but is there enough time before the World Cup for that to happen?Monday was a big chance missed to see how this attack features against a strong batting line-up. If India can trump England on Friday, it might get another opportunity to run this experiment on Sunday.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 10:27:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/india-mulls-team-composition-before-key-match/article6827798.ece

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