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India’s hopes rest on the batsmen

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s comments after India’s loss to Australia in the first match of the Carlton Mid Tri-Series were a bit cryptic. On a day when India’s batsmen posted a reasonable total of 268, the Indian captain said “It’s important for the top order to take extra responsibility and give a total our bowlers are comfortable with.” It’s quite evident, in fact, it has been the case for many years that bowling still remains India’s Achilles heel. And the Indian captain is very well aware of it. 

The fast bowling trio of Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were ineffective and the game slipped away from India’s hands in the first 15 overs. Australia’s openers David Warner and Aaron Finch had a comfortable start, which laid down the platform for Australia’s run chase. 

India takes on England in Brisbane on January 20 in a crucial encounter for both teams as they come into the match after facing defeat to the hosts in their respective opening matches. While Rohit Sharma underlined his growing importance in the Indian team with a superb 138, his fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan’s form is a growing concern. Dhawan had an indifferent run of form in the Test matches and has looked uncomfortable on the bouncy pitches of Australia. It’s crucial for India that Dhawan gets amongst the runs quickly.

Virat Kohli had an incredible run of form in the Test matches and needs to convert that into the shorter format of game. Suresh Raina would have heaved a sigh of relief after scoring a half-century in Melbourne as he too was coming after a disastrous Test series. Dhoni didn’t look too comfortable against Australia and seemed to be playing without his sense of flair and freedom. Still, he remains one of the most dangerous ODI batsmen in the World. 

India’s success in the tri-series will largely depend on how the batsmen fare, as the bowlers haven’t inspired much confidence. Kumar bowled well at the death against Australia but in the first 15 overs, he and his fellow pacers were easily picked apart. The English batsmen seem short on confidence as well and Tuesday’s game could very well be a real opportunity for bowlers to hit some form. Apart from Eoin Morgan, who scored a century in England’s first ODI, all the other English batsmen failed to make an impression. 

Akshar Patel bowled quite well against Australia and R Ashwin has the experience so the slow bowlers aren’t that big a concern for India. With Ishant Sharma injured and two rookie seamers – DhawalKulkarni and Mohit Sharma – as backup bowlers, the onus lies heavily on Shami, Kumar and Yadav to hit a rich vein of form. 

It’s no surprise that Dhoni is asking his batsmen to put more runs on the board as he perhaps knows that the bowlers can’t be relied on to turn a game in India’s favour. If India’s batsmen do their job, then there’s a good chance India will record their first win of the tri-series in Brisbane today.

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