The Hardik Null And Void, And The Lessons Learned > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - The Hardik void and the lessons from it

The man most critical to the balance of the team

After some experimentation, and a bit of tinkering, India have returned to the conclusion they were aware of. But it is a more powerful conclusion since it is now backed by observation. India's missing player in these one-day games against Australia is the player who is most critical to the balance of the team. And over the next two months, it will be up to the Mumbai Indians to manage Hardik Pandya's lower back.

It is worrisome that India will have to go to the World Cup without a back up for Pandya. I had believed that Ravindra Jadeja would be that player but his batting has been applying for leave a fair bit in recent times. There is a perfectly capable batsman residing within him, he is better than he is allowing himself to be in recent times, and it is upto the team management to either demand or cajole that skill out of him once more. Jadeja at 7, if the runs return at a fair clip, is something the team would welcome.

India's other experiment is a dangerous one that might come off some days but is not, as a new set of prizes say, bankable. Both Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar are primarily batsmen. In essence, they can both play the role of a sixth bowling option, called upon if there is a need but not too much more. You could argue that two bowlers capable of delivering four or five overs each could add up to one bowler. It doesn't. Two sixth bowlers don't make a fifth.

And so, if Pandya has to miss games, and one hopes he doesn't have to, India have two options before them. Either live with the extra runs that two part-timers will concede or work on the principle that five pure bowlers would keep the opposition runs down by the number the extra batsman/part-time bowler will produce. Specifically, would playing Bhuvaneswar Kumar as a specialist fifth bowler save the runs that you assume a more capable number seven, like Vijay Shankar will score?

In bowler-friendly conditions, where 250 is a perfectly good score, India could get away with a weaker support bowler and accommodate a seventh batsman. But conditions in England, in recent times, have tended to produce 300 plus games. These are tricky because they demand that number seven be a decent batsman and indeed that even number 8 should be able to produce a little match-winning cameo. But just as important, given that bowlers will be disadvantaged by pitches, you need six bowling options. The teams that provide that balance will be the ones to watch out for.

Hence the conclusion that India was aware of all along. India have a decent balance to the side with Jadhav at 6, Pandya at 7 and Bhuvneshwar at 8. But if that gets affected in some way, then India will be too reliant on a batting line up that has delivered but which places far too much importance on the top three.

In an earlier era, India could call upon a Tendulkar or a Ganguly, with a hundred ODI wickets each, or a Sehwag who was a far better bowler than we saw. But we are in the midst of a phase where the batsmen don't bowl, not just in the first eleven but on the periphery as well with batsmen like Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer. As a child, I was told of the need to possess a second language. That is still valid, even in sport. If you are a young player today, you need to have a dominant skill but a pretty strong second skill too. The future, unless you are a Kohli, is there.

Live Home Series
Player Schedule
Points Table Cricket Rankings
Cricket Clothing Cricket Equipment
Cricinfo Apps Download