Mumbai: India have had a brilliant home season so far, registering series victories against New Zealand and England, in both Test and ODI cricket.
While they have been completely dominant in the longer version of the game, registering a 3-0 cleansweep of the Kiwis and a comprehensive 4-0 victory in a five-match Test series against England, their performance in ODI cricket has been less convincing, with a 3-2 and a 2-1 win against New Zealand and the Three Lions, respectively.
This may be an area of concern for the Indians, who played only 13 ODIs in the calendar year 2016.
With the ICC Champions Trophy set to get underway in June 2017, India will be looking to patch the few leaky faucets in their lineup. So here’s a look at a few areas where India could improve ahead of the Champions Trophy.
Poor bowling in the death overs
Some of this may be blamed on the flat wickets that are on offer in modern day limited overs cricket, while some may even blame it on the fact that India have mostly rested their premier pace bowlers in the last few ODI series. However, India’s bowling in the death over is certainly something that coach Anil Kumble and captain Virat Kohli will look to improve.
The Men in Blue conceded an average of 102.66 runs in the last 10 overs, in the recently concluded three-ODI series against England. That makes an economy rate of 10.26 in the death overs in the England series. While Hardik Pandya has been economical in the first and the third ODIs, the likes of Jaspreet Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have gone for a beating.
Bowling in swinging conditions needs to improve
The Indian seamers have been anything but impressive in limited overs cricket this season. With the ICC Champions Trophy looming large in the horizon, India will be looking for improved performances from their seamers, to do well in the swinging conditions in England.
While the likes of Pandya, Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar have been used extensively in the England series, the return of ace pacers like Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami could improve India’s plight in the pace department, and give their bowling lineup some teeth up front.
Openers failed to impress
India have tried different combinations in their openers’ lineup in the England series. While KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan opened the batting in the first two ODIs, Ajinkya Rahane came out to partner Rahul at the Eden Gardens. However, none of them have been able to impress so far, with India, opening partnerships in the England series being averaged at 13.33.
There is a silver lining in this dark cloud though. Rohit Sharma has excelled for the Men in Blue as an opener in the New Zealand series, before getting injured. The Mumbai Indians captain has plenty of time to get back to full fitness ahead of the Champions Trophy, and his return could add a lot of firepower to India’s lineup.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s poor form in the shorter format
Ashwin’s lack of match practice in ODI cricket over the last year is something that could be of concern to Team India. Ashwin, who has done exceptionally well in Test cricket in the last couple of seasons, has failed to carry that form into the shorter format of the game.
In fact, the 30-year-old from Chennai has only played five ODIs since 2016, picking up just five wickets in this duration. The Chennai-lad has also had a poor economy rate of 6.86 during this period.
Ashwin is unlikely to get as much help on the swing-friendly tracks in England, during the Champions Trophy. This is something that raises even more concerns about the ace spinner’s relevance in the Indian side in limited overs cricket.
Poor overseas form
India may have looked dominant in the recent 50-over series against England and New Zealand, but one factor that must be taken into consideration is that the Men in Blue have been playing in the familiarity of their home conditions.
While they whitewashed Zimbabwe 3-0 in their last overseas ODI series, that can hardly be taken into consideration, because India had sent a weakened side to the African nation. The five-match ODI series in Australia, which took place earlier this year could serve as a better measure for India’s form abroad. The Aussies dished out a 4-1 drubbing to India in the series, something that Virat Kohli & co will be mindful of, when questions about India’s form overseas is raised.
To add to these problems, India will not play any ODIs in the five months leading up to the Champions Trophy....