After putting to bat first, India’s openers were dismissed very early by Shaheen Afridi. Virat Kohli then tried to hold things from one side, however, wickets kept falling from the other end. India managed 151 runs on the back of Kohli’s 57 and Rishabh Pant’s 39. In reply, the Pakistani openers, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan chased down the score in the 19th over itself.
With India scheduled to take on New Zealand in the next match on October 31st, Virat Kohli and co will be desperate to make things fall in line.
In this article, we will analyse three questions India must answer about their final XI before stepping onto the field against the tricky Kiwis on 31st October which can potentially make or break India’s chances going forward.
The Hardik Pandya Conundrum
He is probably the most talked-about cricketer in India right now if fitness is the parameter. From an all-rounder to a specialist batter ‘who could bowl’ if the need arises to finally playing as the designated finisher, Hardik has left a lot to be desired.
Pandya looked visibly uncomfortable against the pacers before being hit on the shoulder by a short ball during his 8 ball-11 runs to stay at the crease. He’s clutching his shoulder was not a pleasant sight by any means, he didn’t even take the field during Pakistan’s innings and was later taken to the hospital for scans.
Although it was a matter of relief that only a minor injury was revealed in scans but with Hardik not bowling at all, India would do their chances no harm by including someone with no fitness concerns like Ishan Kishan in Hardik’s place as the former provides a left-handed batting option & has been amongst runs off late.
Weak Link In Pace Attack
Defending a small total, Kohli had hoped from Bhuvi to swing the new ball like Shaheen did & provide early breakthroughs. But the senior pacer from Uttar Pradesh struggled & looked a pale shadow of himself while conceding 25 runs in three overs, at an economy rate of 8.3. With a carrier ravaged with injuries, it was not heartening to see Bhuvi bowling at 120-125 km/hr.
India cannot afford to depend solely on Bumrah to the heavy lifting in a crunch game and hence must look for a like to like replacement in Shardul Thakur who always seem to punch above his weight and someone who could be trusted as the partnership breaker. His lower-order hitting could add vital runs to the total in case of another low scoring encounter.
Need For Experience In Spin Strategy
Although it might be severely harsh on Varun Chakravarty to judge him after only one game but such is the state India find themselves in that another loss could potentially knock them out of the competition. This brings the age-old debate of experience vs youth in contention and Ravi Ashwin could hold his nerves in the all-important contest against New Zealand.
Few left-handers in the Kiwi line-up makes it more tempting to include India’s premier spinner & his understanding with Jadeja could work in India’s favour. Although hoping that it doesn’t come down to India requiring his spin skills, Ashwin’s inclusion over Varun will also make lower-order batting look respectable.