It was a game that ebbed and flowed so much as England found themselves at a comfortable position of chasing it all much ahead of the scheduled time. However, that is the beauty of cricket, as the Indian pacers made everyone realize, with wickets falling in a heap and England conceding the game.
India’s template should account for (lack of) objectivity
India have a set template to follow in ODI cricket. Both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are the kind of batsmen who make up for the lack of runs in the powerplay with some sublime hits later and that more often that helps with India having Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer to follow suit. Today’s partnership was no different but when you see half-trackers being dished out, sticking to the traditional plan and leaving that to the wicket-keeper, or dead batting from the middle of the bat, doesn’t really make sense.
England were without Jofra Archer, which made their bowling considerably weak, with Mark Wood being the only experienced pacer with some sort of form going with him. However, when he partnered with Sam Curran first and then Tom Curran, India never let their cautious approach shed for a bit. Tom was dishing out at least two harmless outside off-stump deliveries every over but Rohit was not ready to take the chances, so much so that India failed to hit the 4 RPO mark by then. If the bowling was excellent, it would have been understandable, but in reality, this was some average bowling from the English team.
Dhawan made that up with a 98 and thanks to Virat Kohli’s acceleration, India found themselves at a comfortable position by the 30th over, but that left many wondering what could have been had Rohit not batted with a strike rate of 66. It is definitely the beauty of ODI cricket that you can take your time in to settle down, but discounting the objectivity and the resultant damage it can inflict is a story that needs to be analysed threadbare. For it should always start from the top.
India can really use Krunal Pandya’s incredible self-confidence
Krunal Pandya oozes confidence in a man possessed. He is not new to international cricket, having made his T20I debut back in 2018, Pandya was playing his 19th international match today. Thus you would believe he understands the dynamics and not be bogged down by the pressure. But having returned from a personal tragedy, expecting him to be at the top of his game straightaway would be asking too much. But in the end, it didn’t really matter.
After India were hard done in the overs between 31 and 41, they needed Hardik to go big but he failed in the pursuit. In came Krunal, who took the attack on the English team right from the word go and put up the fastest fifty by a debutant in ODI cricket. Not only did his knock help the side wrest the momentum back, it helped KL Rahul too to find the time to hit the groove and score a solid unbeaten 62 off 43 balls to help the side to a decent total of 317 runs. Even though he completely tanked it with the ball, the fact that everyone else was no better in the first 15 overs, we can cut Krunal some slack there.
But overall, it is this utility and the unbridled passion that he brought to the game was the differentiator - something that has become a marker line to what Virat Kohli recently described the sign of the “New India”. It is the fearless attitude and the readiness that defined Krunal’s otherworldly knock in Pune. Looking at him, you’d wonder if you are seeing him doing this to the oppositions for years to come and not be bogged down in any of that.
No clear winner as spinners extend struggle with white-ball
Looking at Indian spinners operating in red-ball and white-ball formats of this series has been a story of contrast. In the Test series, led by Ravichandran Ashwin’s sheer magic, Indian players delivered like a magician to bundle Englishmen one after another but in the T20Is and now in ODIs, the narrative flipped. After Yuzvendra Chahal struggled badly in the 20-overs series, Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya did nothing better in the ODIs too.
This leaves all the Indian fans in a quandary, especially in terms of where the next spinner comes from. Washington Sundar is a willy operator in T20Is but in ODIs, the same can’t be said with conviction. Rahul Chahar is an untested prospect and India can’t really go back to the KulCha combo. Ravindra Jadeja’s batting might have developed leaps and bounds but his bowling has dwindled a fair bit to give India jitters in the long run.
The Indian team management need to take this seriously and plot their next step in some serious way. With Kuldeep and many others, it is also about confidence too which the Indian team need to give in abundance in order to be successful. Otherwise, just the way they booted Navdeep Saini out of the ODI set up for a couple of failures, a similar act would push Indian cricket way too backward in their bid to win the third World Cup, which is two years down the line.