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Convincing series win must not hide from work in progress

Cricket news - Convincing series win must not hide from work in progress

Cricbuzz news Convincing series win must not hide from work in progress and enjoy livescore, commentary, points table, upcoming schedule, team ranking, match ranking and Series info. 18 Thursday October 2018 012955000000

The noises coming from the Indian camp after their first bilateral series win in South Africa should be encouraging for their well-wishers. The message from Virat Kohli after sealing the 5-1 in Centurion was not just about a mission accomplished. It was also about the team being aware of what improvements it needed ahead of next year's World Cup. The preparations will scale up in subsequent ODI assignments - in England and later next year in New Zealand - but unlike South Africa, who are speaking of a talent pool, India already have a proven core of players who will have a seat with their names on that flight to the World Cup. And that's always a good place to start.*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

Cricinfo news Convincing series win must not hide from work in progress and enjoy livescore, commentary, points table, upcoming schedule, team ranking, match ranking and Series info.18 Thursday October 2018 012955000000

Although Kohli said he preferred not to divulge 'personal' information like the team's areas of improvements in a press conference, it doesn't take much to put two and two together. What did the series win in South Africa tell about India they didn't already know? That Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal could turn the ball on the surface of water if they wanted to. If there were any doubts over how effective playing two of that ilk in conditions outside the subcontinent would be, the wrist spinners dispelled that fear in rather spectacular fashion with the two taking 17 and 16 respectively.*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

Vcricket news Convincing series win must not hide from work in progress and enjoy livescore, commentary, points table, upcoming schedule, team ranking, match ranking and Series info. 18 Thursday October 2018 012955000000

Middle order and roles*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ Unfortunately though for India, another six games have gone through and the identity and, more importantly, roles of their numbers 4, 5, 6 and 7 seem shrouded in mystery and there are no indications of a big cinematic revelation either in the near future. Twitter timelines of the BCCI Twitter account therefore still has multiple images of a young Yuvraj Singh cover driving a hapless England bowler.*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ Given India are the No.1 ranked ODI team, who are likely to harbour hopes of winning the most coveted tournament limited-overs prize (no, not the IPL), this uncertainty can be an annoying itch especially when so many bases are locked in. To be fair to India, they've tried a lot of options - Manish Pandey, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj - at two drop but whenever mediocrity has called, the man of the moment has barely resisted. Because Kohli, Dhawan and Rohit (mostly the first two) have gobbled up runs in the series till their belts have buckled. This gaping weakness hasn't been exacerbated further.*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ Perhaps the most frightening thing about this search is how convincing each press conference backing the next No.4 is. In Sri Lanka, KL Rahul was an "exceptional talent who deserved a chance." The subject changed to Manish Pandey before Australia. Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya seemed to have made a case for themselves against New Zealand and Sri Lanka.*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ But here in South Africa, the team management realised the World Cup was in England and so went back to an older option and a newer approach, and it worked straight away in Durban when Rahane scored a fluent 79 in a match-winning chase. Then at Newlands and in Johannesburg, Rahane approached his role as if his trousers were on fire. In the third ODI, he got out to JP Duminy attempting to impose himself on spin - hardly a Rahane thing to do. At the Wanderers, just after a rain break, he pulled Lungi Ngidi straight into the hands of the deep mid-wicket fielder and threw his head back. He finished the series with an unbeaten 34. But can Rahane play the fulcrum role in the middle in the face of a top-three collapse like at the Champions Trophy final of 2017?*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ It became clear over the series that one of the No.4's other briefs is to sustain the momentum built at the top through the innings and score as many as possible before the 40th over - with two new balls and only four men outside the circle. But in the process, they shot themselves in the foot in the third, fourth and fifth games where the middle-order collapsed. That is not too dissimilar from what teams were afflicted by in 2011 when the batting powerplay forced an implicit change in methods.*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ MS Dhoni*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ Then there is MS Dhoni, a phenomenal ODI batsman whose once fool-proof theories on 50-over batting have struggled to keep up with the evolution of the format. After scoring a brisk 80 in the Mohali ODI against New Zealand in October 2016, the then Indian skipper indicated a desire to bat at 4. A year on, at Indore, he'd moved down to No.7 with Pandey, Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav moving ahead of him. On paper at least, No.4 seems a slot most suited for him given his methods have never involved going hell for leather from the first ball. Dhoni batting at 4 could also bring together, the two most calculative minds, Kohli and Dhoni, at the crease more often. But it's the kind of move that'll throw Rahane (or any of the other No.4 contenders) into the deeper ends of untested waters of the lower middle-order. So the best Dhoni will have to contend with is a No.5 slot. For now, at least.*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ "We want to strengthen our middle order so giving them as many chances as possible is very important also," Kohli stressed. "To Iyer and Jinks as well, It's very important to understand that one knock can be a difference in someone's career." Unfortunately that knock never came*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ All-rounders and sixth-bowling options*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ Finally there are two all-rounders in Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav. Hardik has made himself almost indispensable in the team with his multi-faceted skills. He's athletic on the field, can hit a long ball and now has a clever off-cutter to go with his natural back-of-length deliveries that can prove very useful on two-pace and slow wickets as was the case in Port Elizabeth and Centurion. The runs may have dried up but the lack of a sixth-bowling option liberated Pandya's bowling, who took his six wickets at a very acceptable economy of 4.91.*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ Jadhav, when fit, will hold on to No.5 but could be vultured out if he fails continuously in his primary suit - batting. Shreyas Iyer may have batted at five in South Africa but he is only really trialing for four in the event that Rahane fails to nail down. As good as Pandya was with the ball in the ODIs, India will need a part-time sixth-bowling option as insurance. It is precisely why Suresh Raina harbours hopes of fighting for the World Cup berth 15 months out.*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ Backup seamers*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ Finally to the ball. The two wrist spinners will keep picking themselves as long as they choose to play an attacking brand of cricket endorsed by their captain. There's a little caveat. South Africa coach Ottis Gibson believes because the World Cup will be played at more venues, and thus likely to remain fairly fresh, the pitches may not offer as much for the two wrist spinners. It is for this reason, India's selectors are refusing to rule out Jadeja and Ashwin completely out of contention and keep carrying Axar Patel in the squad. If either Jadeja, Ashwin or Axar plays, the batting is lengthened further - especially if the uncertainty in the middle continues.*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ India will also need to keep an eye on the composition of their backup seam bowlers should bad form or injuries catch up with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. Shardul Thakur did best in his one chance, claiming a four-fer after Bhuvneshwar was rested for the final ODI. But one swallow doesn't make a summer. Mohammed Shami has been with the squad but has played just three ODIs since his successful World Cup 2015. Umesh Yadav has played 23 but his tendency to be profligate has been held against him.*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^ From purely a looking-for-answers perspective, the three-match series in England should offer more clarity than the one here did. Despite the general homogeneity in ODI conditions, the variation in between India, South Africa and England is considerable, meaning different shades of each player will be revealed to one another. Ultimately, it is there that the World Cup will be played. Right now, India are assimilating confidence in heaps. The composition of the team itself remains a work in progress.*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

*^18 Thursday October 2018 022955000000

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