One poor ODI series doesn’t define a team, a captain, or a coach. It would be wise not to judge a professional cricket team based on that poor performance.
Yes, we are talking about South Africa comprehensively winning an ODI series against a formidable Indian team. There will be noise from all the corners, especially with a new Coach and Captain. There will be controversies around the leadership change announced before and during the series.
Let’s not make a conclusion based on the South Africa tour. However, there are some changes that the future of the ODI team demands. We assume these are a few tough decisions we think the team management may take.
Ruturaj Gaikwad as a regular ODI Opener
Dhawan should make a way for Ruturaj Gaikwad as a regular opener. Full-time captain Rohit Sharma can make it a strong pair and will be an ideal start for the transition in the white-ball format.
Dhawan should be part of the team as a reserve opener where his experience and skills will be valuable if a need arises. Younger players can learn from him and lay the foundation for transition in the long run. Ruturaj, on the other hand, has been consistent and exceptional with his batting and thoroughly deserves a long run in the team.
KL Rahul back to the middle order.
India had plenty of issues with the middle order in the past too. At Number four we had Rayudu eyeing the spot once. Vijay Shankar earned a surprise call in the World Cup 2019. Shreyas Iyer had a good run, and we saw Rishabh Pant taking over the spot in the series against South Africa.
KL Rahul can bat at four with Shreyas Iyer as a reserve for the role. That will help India play Pant at five and take up the wicketkeeping role. Venkatesh Iyer needs a long run as a fast-bowling all-rounder and can play at six.
Jadeja at seven with Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur to follow will give the team enough batting depth. Bumrah and one among Chahal, Axar Parel, or Ravi Bishnoi should form a regular playing eleven for the next ODI world cup.
India can play Shreyas Iyer at four and KL Rahul at five as a wicketkeeper-batsman. Pant should serve as a reserve keeper.
All-rounders and Bowlers
Jadeja’s return will provide India with a much-needed balance. Venkatesh Iyer should get a long run in place of Hardik Pandya. The duo can occupy the slots at six and seven. Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur proved themselves more than capable with the bat.
Bumrah, Siraj, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Chahal, Axar Patel, and the uncapped Ravi Bishnoi should form a solid group from a bowling perspective. They should be playing as horses for races in the lead-up to the world cup.
Rahul Dravid has been someone who put the team first during his playing days. He was never away from Indian cricket with his rich contribution at the junior and India A levels. Dravid’s challenge will be to set the transition process right without a lot of compromise on results with a world cup insight in a couple of years.