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Focus on Pant and Dhawan

In earlier ODIs, Pant had played purely as batsman but with Dhoni being rested, Pant will get a chance to don the big gloves
Rishabh Pant

Our Bureau And Agencies   |   Calcutta   |   Published 09.03.19, 09:06 PM

Young Rishabh Pant will aim to seal a slot in the World Cup squad even as India fret about their top-order ahead of the fourth ODI against Australia at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Sunday.

Providing opportunities to all Cup hopefuls would be on Virat Kohli’s mind and the team management is expected to ring in a few changes in the playing XI in the remaining two matches of the series.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni seem to have played his last International game in Ranchi and now Pant gets a chance to book his boarding pass for the London-bound flight.

In earlier ODIs, Pant had played purely as batsman but with Dhoni being rested, Pant will get a chance to don the big gloves.

The Indian playing XI will also have Bhuvneshwar Kumar as he replaces Mohammed Shami, who was hit on the leg in his followthrough during the third match.

Shami completed his spell but since he will be sharing the new ball with Jasprit Bumrah in England, it is natural to give him precautionary rest.

“We will have a few changes in the next couple of games but the idea is to tell the boys to put in match-winning performances and the boys will be looking to be in top form before the flight to England,” Kohli said after the third ODI.

However, what will keep the Indian team worried is the batting form of the top-order, save skipper Kohli, who has been several notches above the rest in his team.

Kohli has 283 runs in three games with two hundreds and the next best in the Indian team is Kedar Jadhav with 118 runs. Rohit Sharma is undergoing a rare slump in ODIs, having scored only 51 in three innings. Even worse is Ambati Rayudu's performance at No. 4 with aggregate of 33 runs in three games.

Shikhar Dhawan’s struggles are well-documented and he has scored only 22 in three games.

Dhawan and Rayudu’s form should be a cause of concern even though the former is a certainty as far as place in the World Cup squad is concerned.

There are certain problems in both Dhawan and Rayudu's games but they won’t get adequate time to correct those follies with just two games to be played in five days and the cash-rich IPL to follow soon.

Bangar, however, considers that the shortest of gaps between two games – Friday and Sunday to be a blessing in disguise.

“At times, actually it’s good that there is a very small turnaround between matches because if there are too many gaps, then players have that much more time to think.

“The best for any player is to get back into action and give it another shot. In fact I’m very pleased that the next game is starting Sunday,” Bangar said.

While Kohli is not a great advocate of wholesale changes, KL Rahul is expected to get a look-in and is likely to replace Rayudu. Rahul then may have to bat at No.3.

India will be worried about Aussie leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who despite conceding lot of runs, has managed to get Kohli and Dhoni on multiple occasions.

“That’s the sign of a good player. You’re not at your best, not having your best day and still taking those important wickets,” Usman Khawaja said.

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