India’s international cricket season will resume coming Friday, with a three-match ODI series against Australia kick-starting a long summer, culminating with a Test match in Brisbane in the middle of January.
Their top-order batting, good and fast spin bowling have defined their ODI cricket in the last five years. However, their Achilles heel, in this period, has proven to be the middle-order, which has seen constant changes.
The Indian squad for this tour to Australia consists of a lot of depth, in that regard. Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey and the late addition of Sanju Samson to the squad has meant India can pick batsman up till number 6 and then have all-rounders in the lower middle-order, succeeded by the bowlers.
However, there is a minor dilemma to picking the personnel for the position. That has come up due to the management’s call to pick KL Rahul as the wicket-keeper and play him in the middle-order and going by the selection of Mayank Agarwal as the bonafide opening option, it looks like Rahul will bat in the middle order.
As a result, a genuine middle-over option like Pandey, who can control the innings and can up the ante when needed, could be warming the bench, at least until India seal the series. What India will be sure about going into the series will be the number four spot.
Last time around, they had Ambati Rayudu there and later MS Dhoni also batted there, but the confusion persisted and that hurt them on the day of the World Cup semi final against New Zealand in Manchester.
However, since that tournament, a constant endeavor to persist with a player at that spot is starting to reap rewards. Shreyas Iyer has become the first-choice player at that position and his overall numbers, albeit a small sample to decide from, reads 398 runs in eight matches at an average of close to 57.
His role in the ODIs and the succeeding T20Is will be vital, especially because India will not have Rohit Sharma at the top of the order and Virat Kohli will want Iyer to be his leader in the middle-order.
The issue India face on this tour is Hardik Pandya will most likely play, only as a batsman. As a result, India will have to pick the extra bowler, who will bowl the full 10 overs. So, Ravindra Jadeja will come at 7 and Mohammed Shami at 8.
That means the overall onus on the middle-order to support the top-order in putting the runs on the board will be enhanced. How they find the right pairing in getting the results will go a long way in deciding how well the Men In Blue do to do an encore from their last tour Down Under.
Betting sites like Betway are expecting India to lose this ODI, so if you believe in a victory for India, we suggest that you head over to Betway and place your bets for a chance to earn some money if India wins!