From once being everyone’s envy for having a problem of plenty as far talent was concerned, Indian cricket now seems to be suffer from problems aplenty.
The West Indies tour was supposed to be a good opportunity to test India’s bench strength with an eye on the coming World Cup. However, it exposed many weaknesses, including the team’s fragile batting in white ball cricket.
The inconsistent showing in both the ODI and T20I series by the young Indian batters, plus the lack of quality all-rounders, is a big concern.
The West Indies had good batting all the way till No 9 or No 10, but India struggled with runs from their lower order. The lack of runs from all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja (34 runs in 3 matches), Hardik Pandya (82 runs in 3 matches) and Shardul Thakur (78 runs from 3 matches) in the ODI series proved crucial as the tailenders were unable to make any notable contributions.
Head Coach Rahul Dravid — who captained India during its worst performance in an ODI World Cup this century when the team was knocked out of the league stages — admitted that the team needs to find bowlers who are not only good with the ball but can also contribute with the bat.
His former team-mate Venkatesh Prasad was scathing about the team’s showing in the West Indies, calling India a ‘very very ordinary limited-overs side’.
‘They have been humbled by a West Indies side that failed to qualify for the T20 WC few months back. We had also lost to Bangladesh in the ODI series. Hope they introspect instead of making silly statements’, Prasad pointed out.
Fans are perplexed how India were beaten by the West Indies, who failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup after losing to Zimbabwe, The Netherlands and Scotland in the qualifying tournament.
The West Indies took the three-match ODI series into the decider after thumping India by six wickets and clinched the T20I series 3-2 after an emphatic eight wicket victory in the fifth match.
More than presenting options for the World Cup, the West Indies tour has added problems for the Indian team.
The focus will be on the ODI team with the World Cup weeks away. One area to work upon will be the middle order batting.
The team management tried to get Suryakumar Yadav replicate his T20 form in 50 overs cricket, but nothing seems to be working so far. It remains to be seen if he is persisted with for the Asia Cup or the team tries out someone like Tilak Varma, who was India’s star performer with the bat in the T20 series and seems to have the temperament to make an impact even in one-day cricket.
Sanju Samson hit a half-century in the series-deciding third ODI but continues to struggle with producing the goods consistently.
He managed just 32 runs in the T20I series and questions about him getting picked as the wicket=keeper-batter ahead of Ishan Kishan, who hit three fifties in the ODIs, have started cropping up.
K L Rahul and Shreyas Iyer are working hard on their recovery, but their participation for the World Cup is in doubt. Even if they recover just in time, it would be foolhardy to expect them to get going at the World Cup after such a long injury break.
If the duo are unable to make it to the Asia Cup, then Samson and Suryakumar will get another opportunity to stake their claim.
India will also want all-rounders Pandya and Jadeja to come good with the bat in the Asia Cup, which will take the pressure off the lower order, which struggled in the West Indies.
There were a few bright spots from the West Indies tour. Ishan Kishan staked his claim for a place in the World Cup team with three successive fifties in the ODI series while Tilak Varma stood out in his first international series, as he finished the highest run-getter in the T20I series with 173 runs at a strike rate of 140.
Yashasvi Jaiswal is another one for the future. He also made an immediate impact in his first game for the country with a century on his Test debut and then blasted a quickfire 84 not out in the must win fourth T20.
India has lost three out of the last six ODI series played (against New Zealand, Bangladesh and Australia).
From once being everyone’s envy for having a problem of plenty as far their talent pool was concerned, Indian cricket now seems to be suffering from problems aplenty.
India’s record in ODIs since the tour of West Indies in June 2022:
Won the series in West Indies: 3-0
Won the series in Zimbabwe: 3-0
Won the home series vs South Africa: 2-1
Lost the 3-match series in New Zealand: 0-1 (2 matches washed out)
Lost the 3-match series in Bangladesh: 1-2
Won the home series against Sri Lanka: 3-0
Won the home series against New Zealand: 3-0
Lost the home series against Australia: 1-2
Won the series in the West Indies: 2-1
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