The two one day series in Australia and in New Zealand will stand India in good stead in their preparation for the ICC World Cup 2019. Though two matches still remain to be played in India vs. New Zealand ODI series, India has taken an unassailable 3-0 lead and has won the series. With Kohli being rested in the next two games, India will be able to experiment with at least another batsman. At the end of the series, the Indian captain should feel that his ODI team is in better shape than when they played their first ODI against Australia earlier this month.
The biggest find of the two series so far, if one can call it that, is the rediscovery of Mohammed Shami. Although he performed well in the ICC World Cup 2015, he was sidelined by an injury for a long time in the ensuing years. That and his personal problems meant he had played only five ODI’s between then and when he played for India in the first ODI in the India – Australia ODI series. Jasprit Bumrah was assigned rest for the one day series in the two countries and the non-too impressive performance of Khaleel Ahmed and Mohamed Siraj prompted the Indian team management to go for Mohammed Shami as the opening bowler for India, giving company to Bhuveneshwar Kumar.
Coming on the back of an impressive bowling performance in the Test series against Australia, the time was well set for Mohammed Shami to consolidate his position in the Indian squad headed for the World Cup. And he grabbed it with both hands taking 12 wickets in the six internationals he has played so far at an economy rate of 5.01 runs per over. His performance will provide some respite to the Indian selectors because they can bank on Shami as the third fast bowler to take the burden off Jaspreet Bumrah and Bhuveneshwar Kumar whenever needed.
The Indian think tank had another problem and that was with the number 4th, 5th and 6th position in the batting order. That to a certain extent has been alleviated by the emergence of Amabti Rayadu, Dinesh Kartik and Kedar Jadhav as players capable of handling the situation in case of need. Kartik and Kedar, in particular, have shown their capability to adapt to the need of the situation and finish games when the team is chasing a sizeable total with some aggressive batting.
There is further good news for the Indian team management and the Dhoni fans. The BCCI and everyone else that is involved has averred that Dhoni is going to be a part of the Indian ICC World Cup 2019 team. The Indian fans were, however, fretting over Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s poor form over 2018 during which he had scored just 275 runs in the 20 ODI’s that he had played without a single fifty run score. He has so far played in five matches of the six that India has played against Australia and New Zealand, opting out of the third ODI because of injury. In the four innings that he has come in with the bat in 2019, he has scored 287 runs and has been dismissed only once. Among those innings are three fifties and one inning of 48 run not out.
I would rather that Shubman Gill is given a chance in Indian inning in place of Kohli. Kohli seems to be impressed with the young man’s ability from what he has seen and has admitted that he was not even ten per cent of what Shubman Gill is when he was 19 years old. That and the return of Hardik Pandya from suspension bode well for the Indian team in their preparation for the upcoming World Cup.