Shaw, Rayudu, Khaleel: 5 Takeaways for India From Windies Series
Apart from morale, for India the series was all about getting the combinations right, keeping the World Cup in mind.
Team India blanked out the Windies side in all three formats with a win in the final T20I on Sunday, 11 November, in Chennai. After a 2-0 whitewash in the Test series, India beat Windies 3-1 in the five-match ODI series. Finally, a 3-0 win in the T20I series completed what you can safely assume was a one-sided affair.
The inexperienced Windies side was hardly a competition for India, but with less than nine months to go before the World Cup in England, the Indian side wouldn’t mind a morale-boosting series win of this kind.
Apart from morale, for India it was all about getting their combinations right and finalising the squad, keeping the World Cup in mind.
Here’s a look at the key takeaways for India from the West Indies series.
1. The Emergence of Prithvi Shaw
After warming the benches in England, the new prodigy of Indian cricket, Prithvi Shaw, finally got his Test cap in the first Test against the Windies in Rajkot. After repeated failure of Shikhar Dhawan & Murali Vijay, the team management finally decided to go with the Under-19 World Cup-winning captain and Shaw didn’t disappoint.
The flurries of records he set on the first day of his international debut are testimony to his achievement. His sublime 134 on debut, followed by a 53-ball 70 in the second innings of his career, which was in the second Test, kind of cemented his place at the top of the batting order for the Test series in Australia.
Not only the records or the century, the way Shaw middled the ball in his very first match and the maturity he showed, spoke volumes about his talent.
2. Has India’s Number 4 Problem Been Solved?
Since the 2015 World Cup, India have tried at least 10 batsmen at the number four position. From Yuvraj to Rahane to Dhoni, all have been tried and tested but without much success.
After the disappointments of KL Rahul and Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu walked in as the 11th option for the slot, when India took on West Indies in the ODI series.
At an average of 72.33 and a strike rate of 101.40, Rayudu scored 214 runs to make good use of the golden opportunity. With a ton and a half-century to his name, Rayudu complimented Kohli well in most of the matches and was part of a 211-run stand with Rohit Sharma in the fourth ODI in Mumbai.
With the 2015 World Cup in mind, the key for Rayudu will be to continue his good form in Australia, where India is heading next. He might have a good year but bouncy pitches in Australia will be a different challenge compared to flat Indian pitches and young Windies bowlers.
3. Khaleel Ahmed – A Left-Arm Seamer in the Mix
After the departure of Zaheer Khan, forget finding his replacement, India never managed to come up with a suitable left-arm pacer. We had the likes of RP Singh, Jaydev Unadkat and Barinder Sran, but nobody could sustain a good run. And the search for the next Zaheer continued.
Come to Asia Cup 2018, selectors bring in 20-year-old Khaleel Ahmed. After a decent debut against Hong Kong in the Asia Cup, where he accounted for three wickets after giving away 48 runs, Khaleel had a dream series against Windies picking seven wickets in the ODI series and three in the T20I series.
Khaleel’s knack of getting important breakthroughs will be handy not only in Australia but also in England, where there will be movement for the bowlers. And it is always wise to have some variation in the bowling department, as in the case of India, who only had right-arm seamers till Khaleel’s arrival.
Captain Kohli also felt that Khaleel was one of India’s biggest gains from the Windies series.
Khaleel has been outstanding. God forbid anything happens to Bhuvi or Bumrah, good to have Khaleel who can come in and take wickets.Virat Kohli on Khaleel Ahmed
4. Dhoni is Making Way for Pant
It looks like time is up for Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The former captain hasn’t been among runs since the Champions Trophy last year. It has been his skills behind the stumps and his experience on the field that sustained his place in the limited-over squad.
But with another disastrous series with the bat, it looks like the team has few reasons left to justify his place in the playing XI. Meanwhile, Rishabh Pant, who is yet to prove his mettle with gloves, is slowly by steadily claiming his place in the team.
After a decent outing in the Test series versus England and West Indies, Pant saw India home against Windies in the third T20I on Sunday. A job which Dhoni used to do day in day out in his hey days.
The first sign of accession was evident when Pant was selected for the ODI series versus Windies, along with Dhoni. But Dhoni’s exclusion from the T20 squads against Windies as well as Australia set the alarm bells ringing.
Though captain Kohli said that it was Dhoni who wanted Pant’s elevation in T20s, MS Dhoni keeping wickets for India in England next year is no longer a surety.
5. India’s Bowling Still Needs Polishing
The bowling department might like a well-oiled machinery after a successful Windies series, where the visitors were outplayed in all formats, but there are still fine cracks which need to filled before the quadrennial event in England last year.
One of the most prominent flaws in the bowling unit is the over-dependence on the duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
The Test series wasn’t a problem, where the inexperienced Windies side was already not well-equipped. But in the ODIs, the young visitors made the absence of Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah felt. They scored 921 runs in the first three matches.
It was only after the inclusion of the duo in the remaining two matches that the run flow from the Windies’ bats went for a toss.
Thus, India need to zero in on their third seaming option along with reserve seamers quickly ahead of the World Cup. While Khaleel has to continue his good form, Umesh and Shami have to get their act together as quickly as possible.
In the spin department, Kuldeep Yadav looks good while Yuzvendra Chahal has to be more consistent. And we might see a fight between Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya for the bowling all-rounder spot.
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