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2023 World Cup: India’s top order must pull up socks

Series on the line, home team likely to make changes in playing XI to plug holes
Shubman Gill at nets on the eve of the second ODI against South Africa.
Shubman Gill at nets on the eve of the second ODI against South Africa.
PTI picture

Our Bureau   |   Calcutta   |   Published 09.10.22, 02:48 AM

Team India will be busy with their preparation for the 2023 50-over World Cup around this time next year. It’s thus important for the Shikhar Dhawans, Shubman Gills and Shreyas Iyers to make optimum use of whatever opportunities are coming their way so that they stay relevant in India’s ODI scheme of things.

At present though, they need to get their act together in the second one-dayer against South Africa in Ranchi on Sunday in order to stay afloat in the three-match ODI series.

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The hosts lost the first ODI in Lucknow, which was a truncated affair due to rain, by just nine runs. Agreed, the margin of defeat was small, but one needs to delve deep into the reasons behind Dhawan and Co.’s defeat in the series opener. And one of the main reasons behind the loss was the top order’s failure to contribute.

All that South Africa’s quicks, particularly Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell, did with the new ball was just hit the right lengths with some assistance in the form of a little bit of movement and extra bounce. That seemed good enough to neutralise both skipper Dhawan and his opening partner Gill, who were both coming off impressive scores in their previous ODI appearances.

Dhawan’s problems outside the off-stump seem to persist, while for Gill, it appears he’s yet to sort out the issues with the in-coming ball. The JSCA Stadium pitch is usually either batsman-friendly or tends to be on the slower side, which should be making matters comparatively easier for the two batters.

What the team management can also look to do is bring in someone like Rajat Patidar, who was among the runs in the recent India A matches against New Zealand A, or Rahul Tripathi in place of either Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan.

Gaikwad and Kishan have got a fair share of chances so far if one takes a look at their international careers. In fact, their struggle had doubled the pressure on Shreyas Iyer and Sanju Samson before the duo could begin the fightback during a fifth wicket stand in the last match.

Bowling-wise too, India need to figure out if they should give another chance to the misfiring Avesh Khan or hand Bengal pacer Mukesh Kumar, who had an extended bowling session on match-eve, his maiden international cap. Spinner all-rounders Washington Sundar (replacement for injured pacer Deepak Chahar) and Shahbaz Ahmed are also at India’s disposal.

Today’s match

■ India vs South Africa, 2nd ODI, 1.30pm, live on Star Sports Network



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