Thursday, February 29, 2024

Rajkot lessons: Full-strength Australia lays bare India’s limitations

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Concerns include a limited bowling attack during the middle overs, difficulties faced by batsmen on wickets with inconsistent pace, and concerns regarding Jadeja’s recent batting form.

India took away several important lessons from their encounter in Rajkot, where they suffered a 66-run defeat at the hands of Australia in a non-essential match. While this series served as valuable preparation for the upcoming World Cup and brought forth numerous positives, it also highlighted certain limitations that could potentially hinder India’s quest for a third World Cup title.

The issues, such as a lack of batting depth and a somewhat one-dimensional approach in the middle overs heavily reliant on Kuldeep Yadav, have been well-documented. Throughout their successful Asia Cup campaign, they managed to conceal these weaknesses, but on occasions when all roles are not executed flawlessly, this Indian team struggles, particularly when confronted with slow, uneven pitches that pose challenges for their batting lineup.

When their opening bowling duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami fails to generate movement through the air or off the pitch, the absence of an off-spinner in their attack becomes glaring. This deficiency can become especially problematic on flatter surfaces, particularly when facing left-handed batsmen.

With the final day for India to make changes to their 15-member World Cup squad approaching, a decision looms. They are currently undecided about whether to include an off-spinner like R Ashwin or stick with Axar Patel, who is recovering from a quadriceps injury. While Axar is expected to recover fully in around two weeks, the nature of the injury raises concerns about potential recurrences. The team management is likely to seek a medical evaluation before making a final decision and may wait until the weekend to gauge Axar’s readiness to resume skill-based training.

In a match held on a flat pitch in Rajkot, India opted to bowl first under Rohit Sharma’s captaincy. With minimal assistance for the bowlers, David Warner and Mitchell Marsh got off to a brisk start, causing Bumrah and Siraj to concede runs early on. Failing to take wickets with the new ball had a cascading effect, preventing Rohit from deploying his trump card, Kuldeep, who typically excels in the middle overs.

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