India went in as the betting favourites in the first ODI on Jan 14 but they were comprehensively beaten. Australia registered at 10 wicket win to take a 1-0 lead in the three match series. India needs to win the second ODI which takes place at Rajkot on Jan 17 to keep the series alive.
We take a look at the key changes India needs to make to counter the rampaging Aussies.
Kohli To Bat At No. 3
Before the series started, Virat Kohli said that he wanted to play all three openers as Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan were in good form. He was willing to give up his number 3 spot and bat down the order as he did in the first ODI.
Rahul, who batted at 3, scored 47 runs and did a good job. However, Kohli—who batted at 4—ended up scoring just 16. During the post-match interview, Kohli admitted that the team might have to rethink their strategy and have him reclaim his number 3 position. This is where the skipper has scored the bulk of his runs and has thrived for India.
Kohli knows how to anchor his innings when he bats at 3 and switching over to the number 4 spot in a tough series against the Aussies isn’t the best time to experiment with the batting order. If India decide to play the three openers, it should be Rahul who comes in at 4 and Shreyas Iyer gets pushed down to 5.
Hosts Need To Play Saini
David Warner and captain Aaron Finch hammered the Indian bowlers to all parts of the ground. Both of them scored centuries to give Australia an easy win. The two openers look in ominous form and India need to have a secret weapon to combat the Australians.
This is why they should think about playing Navdeep Saini at Rajkot. He brings the x factor into the side with his pace and bounce. The Australians have also not seen a lot of Saini. And given the fact that he is in good bowling form, the selectors should give him an opportunity with Jasprit Bumrah not being at his best.
Bumrah’s return to international cricket after his injury has not been very impressive. He did not have a good T20 series against Sri Lanka and conceded 50 runs from his 7 overs in the first ODI. India will be hoping that their main pace bowler quickly rediscovers his form and rhythm.
Pandey Or Samson Conundrum For India
Rishabh Pant suffered a concussion in the first ODI after a Mitchell Starc bouncer hit him. He did not take to the field and the gloves were handed over to Rahul. The selectors are not very likely to push Pant to play. They need to make a decision on whether they will give Rahul the gloves again or get Sanju Samson into the squad.
The current squad does not have a back-up keeper. If they decide to give Rahul the gloves, it opens up the door for Manish Pandey thereby strengthening the middle-order. Should they selectors decide they need a specialist wicket-keeper, it is highly likely that Samson gets the call. Samson may not have the power of Pant but he is a talented batsman who has great timing.