Mirpur. India’s top-order batting line-up will aim to show more bravado as the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh begins here on Sunday, with veteran Shikhar Dhawan and talented KL Rahul battling it out for the opener’s spot. Will be If consistent youngster Shubman Gill (rested for this series) also joins the squad, coach Rahul Dravid will find it difficult to solve the Indian top-order puzzle. In the next one year, the focus will be only on ODIs and India’s approach in 50 overs needs a big change.
Sometimes having too many options is not really a good headache as it leads to more confusion. When there are multiple options in the same skill, the coach tries to give everyone a level playing field but this does not lead to a balanced line-up and is not an ideal situation when a big tournament is around the corner. At present, India’s white ball team is going through this phase. A few years ago, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were India’s favorite opening pair in ODIs with hardly any questions being asked or their place debated. But with Dhawan’s slow powerplay and Gill’s arrival, chances were bound to arise.
KL Rahul prefers to bat at the top of the order and has had success with it, but has played a few matches in the middle order under former coach Ravi Shastri. But the irony is that even looking at these numbers, there is no clear indication of who should be opening the innings with Rohit for the series. Dhawan has opened the innings in 19 ODIs for India in 2022, in which his strike rate is 75.11 which is not so good. Whereas in 2016-18 this strike rate used to be 101 and in 2019-21 it dropped but still remained fine till 91. Rahul has scored five centuries and 10 half-centuries in 45 ODIs, with a strike rate of over 85 and an average of 45, which makes him a better candidate. But if the team management wants to rest Dhawan after ‘jet leg’, then Rahul will surely join Rohit at the top.
Dhawan has joined the team in Mirpur directly from New Zealand. Talking about the middle order, Virat Kohli’s number three is fixed, Shreyas Iyer is also slowly making his way to India’s fourth position. Rishabh Pant will continue ahead of Ishan Kishan for the fifth spot in the line-up after his performance in the ODI series in England. Pant has faced a lot of criticism after getting out cheaply in T20s but he will continue to be the first-choice wicket-keeper in the 50-over format. Kishan, who prefers to open the innings in T20Is, has scored three fifties in ODIs batting at number three or four.
It is believed that Kishan is not being seen as a ‘finisher’, so if he plays, he will be fitted somewhere in the top four positions. But if Rahul does wicketkeeping then this whole equation will be reversed. In the absence of Sanju Samson in this series, Rajat Patidar and Rahul Tripathi will hope to get a chance, who have done consistently well in domestic cricket and IPL (Indian Premier League). Tripathi also bowls a bit and can be a ‘back-up’ option in the absence of Hardik Pandya (rested due to workload).
With Mohammed Shami ruled out with a shoulder injury, Umran Malik has a chance to showcase his bowling skills on a pitch that is expected to favor batsmen. He impressed in New Zealand conditions as well. Deepak Chahar, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur are sure to feature against Bangladesh, who are without regular skipper Tamim Iqbal. Bangladesh’s newly appointed ODI captain Liton Das would like to lead with a good performance but it will also be a real test for the team playing without Taskin Ahmed. In the form of Mustafizur Rahman, Ibadat Hossain and Shakibul Hasan, their attack will be sharp but it is not insurmountable.
The teams are as follows-
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Rajat Patidar, Rahul Tripathi, Akshar Patel, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Sen, Umran Malik, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Shahbaz Ahmed, Mohammad Siraj.
Bangladesh: Liton Das, Anamul Haque Bijoy, Shakibul Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Afif Hossain, Yasir Choudhary, Mehdi Hasan Miraj, Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Hasan Mahmood, Ibadat Hossain Chowdhary, Nasum Ahmed, Mahmood Ullah, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Qazi Nurul Hasan Sohan, Noisy Islam. The match will start at 11:30 Indian time.