After an enthralling T20 series against the formidable English, the West Indies team is visiting India with crucial Super League points at stake. A West Indies team touring India for 3 ODIs wouldn’t pique the interest of an ordinary Indian cricket fan. However, this isn’t just another series. It marks Rohit Sharma’s first ODI series as a full-time Indian captain. The beginning of a new era in Indian ODI Cricket. It will be a momentous occasion for the five-time IPL winner to lead the ODI side. The sentiments are similar even for the countless Indian fans hoping him to replicate his success at the franchise cricket.
The Rough Mantle
The passing of the mantle from Kohli to Rohit hasn’t been smooth. Kohli was sacked unceremoniously in spite of expressing his desire to lead the team in the 2023 ODI World Cup when he relinquished the T20 captaincy. Rohit’s legacy will be defined by his ability to shoulder the hopes of billion Indians and lead the team to the ICC trophy eluding since 2013, without letting it impact his batting.
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There have been phases without the ICC trophy for the Indian team for good 20 years. However, the country has become a cricket superpower with all the resources at its disposal. Reaching the knockouts in current times doesn’t seem to satisfy the fans and the Indian cricket board. The fans can’t exactly be blamed though. Having won three ICC trophies in a span of 7 years – 2007-13 – has certainly raised their hopes from the team. With two ICC trophies lined up in the next two years, the pressure would be huge on Rohit Sharma and the new coach Rahul Dravid. Especially considering the all-crucial ICC 50 over World Cup (won by the home team in the last 3 editions) to be played in 2023. Unfortunately, Rahul Dravid didn’t have an ideal start to his coaching tenure, so he’ll be desperate for some success.
The Rohit’s Team
Will Rohit’s ascendency to captaincy mark a change in India’s fortunes or will it reaffirm the saying that the captain is just as good as his team? It isn’t going to be smooth sailing for the new captain. There are problems aplenty that need to be addressed to maximize the team’s resources. The team that Rohit inherits from Virat does have the potential to go all the way, but the middle order conundrum still continues to haunt the team.
The grave error of not having a settled number 4 in 2019 caused a lot of instability in the team. Nothing could have exemplified that chaos more than sending a finisher like Dinesh Karthik at number 4 in the crucial World Cup semi-final. The management needs to be wary of committing the same blunder twice.
Focus on the No.4 Conundrum
With Pant slowly grabbing his opportunities, Iyer not quite cementing his place, and Suryakumar looking good in his limited opportunities, it will be interesting to see who the management eventually backs. Especially with KL Rahul most probably returning to his middle-order position after Rohit’s return. There is a curious case of Hardik Pandya too, who, from being a certainty, suddenly finds himself in a precarious position. With injuries hampering his bowling over the past year and a half, he has to be picked solely for his batting skills.
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While the bowling department is perceived to be India’s strength, it is slowly becoming India’s Achilles heel in limited-overs. The bowlers’ inability to take wickets, especially in overseas conditions has been glorified with the South Africa series.
ODI World Cup at Home
However, with the next World Cup in India, the team would be buoyed by their dominance in home conditions. They have lost a solitary series at home since 2016. The performances of Shardul and Deepak in the recently concluded SA series with the bat have certainly added batting depth. An ingredient that India has sorely missed in the past few years.
With a settled and experienced top 3, the key to the team’s success would be to add variety in its bowling and identify the right players for the middle order. More importantly, it will be equally important to give them an extended run like what MS Dhoni did prior to the 2011 World Cup. If the team manages to recreate history, Rohit would perhaps emulate what India’s most successful ODI captain MSD had mastered i.e enabling a team capable of doing wonders to reach its full potential.
Thoughts on the new Beginnings in Indian ODI Cricket?
What are your thoughts on the new beginning in Indian Cricket? We would love to hear about it. Do share with us in the comments section, or write us on our Twitter and Instagram handle. You can write to me directly at my Twitter handle Abhishek.