India will expect a better approach from skipper Shikhar Dhawan and young Shubman Gill in the Powerplay overs when the team clashes with New Zealand in the do-or-die second One-Day International here on Sunday. The Seddon Park is a three-way open ground but is known for being one of the friendliest tracks for batting in New Zealand.
Dhawan (72, 77b) and Gill (50, 65b) added 123 in their opening stand but a score of 306 for 7 was 40 runs short of a par score at the small Eden Park in Auckland. The bowlers conceded 307 runs in just over 47 overs but the buck actually stops with India’s main batters: had it not been for Washington Sundar’s brilliant cameo, India would not have touched the 300-run mark.
The safety-first approach of India’s openers during the 10 Powerplay overs meant runs did not come at a desirable pace.
India could score only 40 runs in the first Powerplay overs in Auckland. The problem lies in the general outlook of the Indian top-order batters across limited-overs formats (not just Rohit Sharma, K. L. Rahul, or Virat Kohli). The approach of just building the foundation at the start and leaving the heavy lifting for the back end cost India a T20 World Cup. Strangely, even as personnel changed in ODIs for this series, the approach has remained the same.
With so many players jostling for opening slots, it is imperative that the players score heavily so that the numbers can’t be ignored when the new selectors prune the pool to around 20 at least three or four months before the 50-over marquee event.
While Dhawan will certainly open with Rohit in Bangladesh next month, there aren’t any guarantees that Shubman will be able to retain his place in the playing XI because Rohit will come back as an opener. K. L. Rahul might take Suryakumar Yadav’s (rested for the next series) middle-order slot. Rishabh Pant has a better strike-rate and average in ODIs than in T20Is but the vice-captain of this series needs to be more consistent in order to keep the big gloves away from Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan, who are definitely close on his heels.
As Virender Sehwag few weeks earlier had said, Pant needs to decide first what his style of batsmanship will be.
At the moment, the marauder from Roorkee seems to be unsure of when to attack and defend. The sooner he gets his bearings, the better it will be for the ODI team.
Bowlers need to find fuller lengths
The pacers bowled way too short at Eden Park. They will need to find a way to counter Tom Latham and Kane Williamson, who have both been consistent against India over the years in this format. While Umran Malik was impressive bowling at a speed of more than 145 kph, Arshdeep Singh, despite his ability to get the swing, struggled for pace, and Shardul Thakur was erratic.
Toss will be an important factor. Batting becomes easier at the Seddon Park as the evening wears on.
If India can bowl first, it will do the team a world of good as spinners won’t have to encounter the dew factor during the evening hours.