In what was yet another setback for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the fast bowler was ruled out the three-match ODI series against West Indies. He is set to be replaced by Shardul Thakur.
India arrived for a practice session at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Friday afternoon and Bhuvneshwar’s absence raised eyebrows as Shivam Dube and Mohammed Shami were spotted going through the paces.
India captain Virat Kohli was not part of the session but the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav sweated it out under gloomy conditions. Before and during the World Cup, Chahal and Kuldeep were a regular feature in the eleven. However, post India’s semifinal exit at the World Cup, the team management changed its tactics. In T20Is, Washington Sundar has been a regular feature, while in the ODIs a left-arm spinner along with a wrist spinner have been in the playing eleven.
However, since the ODI away series against the West Indies in August, Chahal and Kuldeep have once again been included in the limited-overs squad.
Balance in team combination
When asked the reason behind the move, Bharat Arun, the India bowling coach, in a press conference ahead of Saturday's contest, said, “We were looking at an ideal combination that lends balance to the team and there was an option where we could use Jadeja as an all-rounder. So that really helped us. There may be occasions where depending on the conditions both (Kuldeep and Chahal) may be playing together but we have to look at the overall balance before deciding on the team.”
Kohli recently harped on strengthening the batting depth and Sundar is a much better batsman than Kuldeep and Chahal. When asked if batting was the reason behind Sundar’s preference over Kuldeep, Arun said, “If you can bat, especially in ODI or T20, it gives a different dimension to choose from and also lends balance. Kuldeep and Chahal both can be match-winners on their day and when you look at match-winners you tend to forego the other aspect of their skill. They can win you matches with their lone skill alone. But players need to be exceptional in at least two departments.”
The bowling coach also heaped praise on Shivam Dube, who impressed with both bat and ball during the recently-concluded T20I series. “He is an exciting prospect and he is gaining in confidence from every game. He is an exciting talent and as he gains in confidence he will be a good all-rounder,” Arun said.
World Cup Plans
India will be playing an ODI series after a gap of four months and Arun is of the view that each ODI series from now will act as a preparation for World Cup 2023. “Yes, you do plan for the World Cup much ahead. You want to try out different combinations, try out different players under different circumstances. It’s about using your resources... which No. 1 would bat.. which No. 1 would be bowling... understanding these aspects would be very important for us for the upcoming World Cup,” he said.
“Every game we play it is with the World Cup in mind. But again, there is a different scenario, there is a different process that you need to be following and how [well] you are going to follow the process set for every individual is a challenge.”
Arun has been hailed for the meteoric rise of Indian fast bowlers. And one such product has been Deepak Chahar, who recently took a hat-trick during the home series against Bangladesh. “Deepak has been exceptional even in the IPL. He is someone who can move the ball both ways and he is also a very skilful bowler. He has got everything in him to do well at the international level.”
The coach is also happy with the fact that India now has a fast bowling pool where bowlers are ready when given an opportunity. “It augurs well for us and it gives us a varied pool of bowlers to choose. Which bowler to play depends on the conditions. Like New Zealand would be different, Australia would be different. We will go for horses-for-courses policy,” he said.