India needs to make tough decisions in picking pacers, says Dean Jones

Dean Jones, currently a panellist on Star Sports Select Dugout, has warned West Indies bowlers against bowling short to India's openers Rohit Sharma and K.L. Rahul.

Dean Jones felt that he would pick Mohammed Shami (L) ahead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar (R) since the former has a better average against West Indies.   -  PTI

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is a quality bowler, but I’ll stick with Mohammed Shami for the West Indies outing. Shami was outstanding against Afghanistan. The statistics also work in Shami’s favour. He has a superb ODI record against West Indies, with 24 wickets in 11 games, at an average of 23.41 and an economy rate of 5.69.

I remember India facing a similar situation after Karun Nair made an unbeaten 303 against England. I remember asking Allan Border, “How do you drop a guy who has just scored a triple century?”. When you have a wonderful amount of resources at your disposal, you have to take tough decisions. And in order to take tough decisions, you need tough leaders. India have that in Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri.

There has been a debate recently on M.S. Dhoni’s strike rate, but you won’t hear me utter a single negative thing about him. Dhoni reads the game better than anyone. Maybe he is more suited to the No.4 spot, but you must remember that the pitch used in the Afghanistan game proved to be difficult for all batsmen. Afghanistan bowled pretty well, and not many boundaries were hit. I think the Old Trafford Stadium at Manchester will be better for batsmen. You can get big scores here.

 

England racked up 397 for six here against Afghanistan, and hopefully, India can bat first and get a 350+ total.

If the West Indies pacers try to bowl short to K.L. Rahul and Rohit Sharma, they will get pulverised. I would like to see Jason Holder share the new ball with Sheldon Cottrell, with Oshane Thomas coming in later. Holder and Cottrell need to pitch it up, get some movement, and blow the Indian top-order away. Against Bangladesh, the West Indies fast bowlers tried to act like schoolyard bullies who knock over the small kid. It didn’t work; they have to be smarter than that.

The biggest problem facing the West Indies, however, is their opening batting combination. They have the worst opening partnership record in the tournament. Their opening partnership average is 11, at a strike rate of 61. Compare that to India, who average 71, at a strike rate of 84. Of the 11 times that teams have got opening partnerships of 50+ in this World Cup, they have ended up winning on 10 occasions. So this is obviously a very crucial aspect of the game. Chris Gayle simply has to get it right, as there is a lot at stake here.

(Tune in to Select Dugout on Star Sports Select 1 on India matchdays and Sundays)