On days when their new-ball pair of Jasprit Bamrach and Mohammed Shami find no movement in the air or on the pitch, their attack, which lacks an off-spinner, can bring the game down in a matter of overs if conditions are flatter and the left-hander is at the top of the order.
Ashwin or Axar?
Thursday is the last day India can make any changes to the 15-man squad for the World Cup. As of now, the Indians are yet to decide whether they should bring in off-spinner R Ashwin or opt for Axar Patel, who is recovering from a quadriceps injury. Axar reportedly has a grade 1 tear and will take two weeks to fully recover, which means he should be ready by early next week. However, given the nature of the injury, there is a strong possibility that it could be a recurrence, as the team management intends to get a medical opinion before taking to theany decision. It is speculated that team management may wait until the weekend to see where Axar stands in terms of resuming skills training.
Having put himself in a variety of situations ahead of the World Cup, Rohit Sharma stuck to the plan, opting to bowl first on a flat deck at Rajkot. David Warner, devoid of any movement, was quick on the pad while Mitchell Marsh also picked up the pace at the other end. As a result, Bumrah and Siraj missed a ball each. The domino effect of the lack of wickets with the new ball is that it prevents Rohit from using his trump card of Kuldeep, who is known to attack in the mid-overs.
With runs coming from both sides, he has resorted to restrictive options: Prasidh Krishna, Ravindra Jadeja and Washington Sundar bowled ahead of Kuldeep. By the time the wrist spinner took the field in the 24th over, Australia were already leading by 176 runs with two settled batsmen. They added 200 runs by the 27th over.
But India managed to restrict Australia to 352/7 when Bamra returned to action in the third, fourth and fifth rounds. After conceding 51 runs in the first five overs, he made just 30 runs in the remaining five overs. He also managed to catch three wickets, including Glenn Maxwell with a near-perfect yorker. With short boundaries, Rohit was sensible with his bowler rotation and also ensured that Kuldeep’s confidence did not suffer as he allowed him just six wickets. After deciding to contain Kuldeep, Rohit managed to get economical play from Jadeja (0/61) and Washington (0/48), and India made a strong run forward.
Although 352 seemed a manageable total when there was no dew factor to lean on, India showed all the right intentions at the top. In Shubman Gill Rohit’s absence. along with Washington, has given India a strong start. Seeing that the Indian bowlers made a powerful comeback by taking the pace off the ball.Australia’s attack wasted no time. Maxwell’s off-spinners then dealt with India’s top four batsmen. Maxwell, who returned to the team after injury, was effective at the stumps line up, changing the pace now and then as Washington, Rohit, Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer fell to him after a good start.
And India’s intentions in the middle part of the game, where they failed to rotate the strike as they would have liked, further highlighted their problems in slow conditions. While India have fulfilled most of their requirements, Jadeja’s form with the bat remains an unresolved issue. He has had a chance to gain some much-needed confidence, but 36 off 35 balls is unlikely to inspire confidence.