regular-article-logo Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Another test on road to ODI World Cup

For some players, it’s about making optimum use of each and every opportunity coming their way

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 18.01.23, 04:28 AM
New Zealand stand-in captain Tom Latham in Hyderabad on Tuesday.

New Zealand stand-in captain Tom Latham in Hyderabad on Tuesday. PTI picture

The ODI World Cup, to be held in India later this year, is still some distance away. But for some players, it’s about making optimum use of each and every opportunity coming their way.

Ishan Kishan is certainly one of those players.


Yet to play an ODI since registering the fastest double-century in the format (against Bangladesh last month), the left-handed keeper-batsman is expected to feature in the Indian line-up with KL Rahul unavailable for the ODI series against New Zealand, which begins in Hyderabad on Wednesday.

Ishan will surely be keen to make another statement as he strives to cement his place in the team.

India are unlikely to tweak their opening combination as Shubman Gill has been consistent and should be opening alongside captain Rohit Sharma. With Virat Kohli slated at No.3, it remains to be seen where Kishan will be slotted.

“Ishan will be batting in the middle order,” skipper Rohit said on match eve. “I’m glad that he can get a run here after a fine knock against Bangladesh.”

With Kishan ideally being a top-order batter, the No.4 or No.5 position seems to be the best for him as his utility may not remain the same if he’s pushed further down the order. However, important contributions in this one-day series will not just keep the Jharkhand cricketer in the reckoning for the World Cup, but could also keep him ahead of KS Bharat for the keeper-batter’s role in the upcoming Australia Tests.

With a back injury sidelining Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav appears to be India’s preferred choice in the batting line-up over Rajat Patidar (Shreyas’ replacement). Not having enough role to play in Sunday’s inconsequential ODI against Sri Lanka in Thiruvananthapuram, these games versus New Zealand are a perfect opportunity for Surya to prove his mettle in the 50-over format, that is if he’s included in the XI.

Bowling-wise, India seem to be having quite a few options at their disposal, especially with the return of seamer all-rounder Shardul Thakur. Their top six — Rohit, Gill, Kohli, Kishan, Hardik Pandya and Surya — look more or less settled, but there’s a bit of prudence required in finalising the remaining five.

The pitch at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad assists spinners more. So it’s expected India will go in with at least a couple of spinners.

But who are those two spinners going to be? Will it be one among all-rounders Washington Sundar and Shahbaz Ahmed along with Yuzvendra Chahal? Or will India continue with Kuldeep Yadav, who did quite well in the two ODIs he was a part of against Sri Lanka?

The continuously-improving Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami are likely to share the new ball, while it won’t be surprising if Shardul gets picked as the third seamer in place of Umran Malik.

After all, the hosts do need to make sure their tail doesn’t go on to be too long.

As for the Black Caps, they are without Kane Williamson, Tim Southee and Trent Boult, while a niggle has also ruled leg-spinner Ish Sodhi out of the first ODI. Yet there’s some quality in their line-up, more than that of Sri Lanka at least.

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