4 Indian players who need to prove a point in this ODI series against Australia
India's tour of Australia is coming to its penultimate end. With T20 series being drawn by 1-1 and the Test series belonging to India by 2-1, it is now time for the ODI series. After the intriguing Test series, everyone is expecting a very exciting 3 match ODI series between the two teams.
The ODI teams of both Australia and India are quite different from the Test team. Some new faces and some limited overs specialists will be making their way into the team. With the Cricket World Cup just 6 months away, both teams would like to get their combinations right.
As far as Team India is concerned there a few questions yet to be answered properly ahead of the World Cup. Some players would like to prove a point in this series and ensure their ticket to England. So let's take a look at 5 such Indian players who are desperate to perform in this series.
#4 Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is one of the best bowlers in the Indian bowling line-up. His ability to swing the ball both ways makes him very dangerous and he also has a good yorker and slower ball to tighten things up at the death.
Bhuvi was a part of the Test squad that won the first ever Test series in Australia but he never got the chance to play in any one of the four matches. So he has been warming the bench for over a month now. He played in the three-match T20 series against the hosts Australia but he didn't seem effective at all.
Bhuvi got injured on the tour of England and had to leave the tour mid-way without playing in the Test matches. Since his return from injury, Kumar has looked sloppy. The swing for which he is known for is missing and he has failed to pick up wickets regularly.
In 2018, Kumar has played 14 ODI matches and has picked up just 11 wickets. With the likes of Khaleel Ahmed coming to the scene and picking up wickets, Bhuvi must tighten things up now. In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, he would be the leader of India's bowling attack and would like to pull off a good performance in the series.
#3 Kedar Jadhav
Kedar Jadhav made his international debut in the year 2014 against Sri Lanka. For almost two years, he was in and out of the Indian team and finally in the year 2017 in the home series against England, he made his mark by achieving the Man of the Series award. Since then, he has been the vital part of India's ODI team.
Since MS Dhoni's finishing ability has gradually decreased, India needs a finisher who can pack a punch lower down the order. Kedar Jadhav looks perfectly fit for the role. Along with good technique, he also has the innovative shots in his arsenal to score at a quick rate.
Kedar is slightly slow in the outfield but his contribution with the ball has been vital. He is known to have a golden arm. His slow off-breaks delivered from a slinging action are very effective. In 48 ODIs, he has 22 wickets to his name at an economy rate of 4.86.
Injuries, however, have hampered Jadhav a lot in recent times. In the IPL 2018 opening match, he had injured his hamstring playing for his franchise Chennai Super Kings and had to miss the entire tournament, as well as the subsequent England tour. In the Asia Cup 2018 final against Bangladesh, he helped India win the Asia Cup, but injured his hamstring again.
In 2018, Jadhav hasn't been in the best of form. In 11 matches, he has scored just 87 runs and has picked up only 6 wickets. Therefore, he definitely needs to perform well and prove to be a match-winner batting at no. 6 or 7.
#2 Ambati Rayudu
Ambati Rayudu had a superb 2018 where he scored at an average of 56 in ODIs for India. It all started in the 2018 IPL, in which he scored 602 runs at an average of 43 for his franchise CSK and helped them to be the Champions of the tournament.
India has been searching for a no. 4 batsman since the 2011 World Cup and the search seems to have ended with Ambati Rayudu. Since his return to the team in 2018, he has not looked back. In every series, he has scored runs and helped the team in the middle order.
However, most of the matches that Rayudu has played so far in 2018 have been in the Asian conditions. This series against Australia is a vital one for Rayudu to gain the trust of the skipper and team management. Ambati Rayudu would like to shut down the debate for the no. 4 spot by a strong performance in the series.
#1 MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni is a giant of a cricketer as far as limited overs cricket is concerned. There has not been as effective an ODI cricketer as MS Dhoni in this decade. Batting primarily at no.6 or 7, Dhoni has scored more than 10000 runs at an average of 50.1.
But since 2015, Dhoni's batting graph has taken a dip. His strike rate has also come down significantly. The finisher in MS Dhoni has started to diminish somewhat and as a result, India has to start searching for a new player take on the role of the finisher.
In the year 2017, it seemed as though the MS Dhoni of old was back. He scored 788 runs at an average of 60.62 and batted very aggressively. But unfortunately, he couldn't continue his good run in 2018. which turned out to be one of his worst years in terms of batting.
In 2018, Dhoni has played 20 matches and scored 275 runs at an average of 25, which is way below his career average. With the recent rise of Rishabh Pant, voices are slowly but surely coming out that the youngster should be given the chance in place of MSD.
The positive thing for MS is that he has rightfully got the backing of the skipper and team management. He may not have been contributing with the bat by making some big runs but his contribution from behind the stumps is invaluable. Virat Kohli always looks up to MS in crunch situations and seeks his guidance.
In a recent press conference, India's vice-captain Rohit Sharma said about Dhoni, "Over the years we have seen the kind of presence he has in the dressing room and on the field. With him being around, there's calmness around the group."
MS Dhoni playing in the 2019 World Cup looks to be a surety but he would still like to silence all the doubters by having a cracker of a series. All MS fans would be hoping and praying that he finds his form and makes sure he remains a vital part of the Indian team.