PARTAB RAMCHAND | 10 JULY, 2018
On to the ODI series
In winning the three match T-20 series against England India have won the first ``test’’ of their tour of that country and one that will boost their confidence as they get ready for the tougher ``exams’’ ahead – the three game ODI series later this month and the five Test series which commences on August 1.
It might have been a narrow victory as the 2-1 result rightly suggests but it was no less meritorious. Whatever their limitations in the traditional format of the game England are a much better side in limited overs cricket as their rankings of No 1 in ODIs and No 4 in T-20s illustrate. They have a number of explosive batsmen in Jason Roy, Alex Hales, John Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan and a really effective all rounder in Ben Stokes.
There could be reservations in their bowling and this was laid bare in the series particularly in the decider when they failed to defend a target of 199 which should normally have been tough for India even given the good batting conditions and the short boundaries. India however were always in control of the run chase and romped home with eight deliveries and seven wickets to spare.
One would like to look at India’s victory from the positive angle. They were the better all round side. In the first place when it comes to an explosive batting line- up India are no whit behind England. Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina is a combination that could intimidate any bowling line-up. The bowling thanks in the main to the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuleep Yadav always seemed to have the edge over England.
In this regard it must be said that the axing of Yadav for the decider was an absolute shocker. It is true that the England batsmen had played him admirably in the second game to set up victory but a bowler who bamboozles the batsmen in the first game to the extent of finishing with a five wicket haul including three in one over – a rare feat in T-20 games – is clearly a match winner.
It must not be forgotten that he took seven wickets in the two matches against Ireland and while too much should not be read into that given the fact that Ireland is ranked No 17 to India’s No 2 the fact is that when a bowler is taking wickets by the bucketful he should be given every opportunity to continue tasting success.
However enigmatic he might be as far as his Test career is concerned there is little doubt that Rohit Sharma is an absolute master when it comes to limited overs cricket. The only man with three double hundreds in ODIs - including the highest ever score of 264 - he is now along with New Zealand’s Colin Munro the only two batsmen with three hundreds in the shortest format of the game. Among the many big names in the Indian batting line-up the right handed opening batsman has a place all his own and is clearly a match winner.
While there are no real worries about the batting – the reverse in the second match can be put down to just one bad day at the office – the same cannot be said about the seam bowling which was not up to the mark. True it was not at full strength with the injured Jasprit Bumrah ruled out of the series but whether the tourists have a Plan B in such cases is a point to ponder over. This is one problem that the Indians will have to solve before the ODI series commences on July 12.
India’s victory came on the day Pakistan defeated Australia in the final of the tri series in Zimbabwe to retain their No 1 spot in the rankings. But India is hot on their heels having climbed from No 3 to No 2. With the team firmly slotted in the No 2 ranking in ODIs while being well on top in the Test rankings Indian cricket seemingly never had it so good across formats.
Indeed there are enjoying a purple patch in the shortest format for this was their sixth successive T-20 series win. The streak began last year with a 2-1 victory over New Zealand. Since then the Indians have got the better of Sri Lanka and South Afirca, won the tri nation Nidahas trophy and beaten Ireland and England on the current tour.
This was also their ninth successive bilateral T-20 series without defeat. Since 2016 have won eight series while one was drawn. Now on to the ODI series in which England interestingly are ranked No 1.