How are India's ODI stocks as they build up for the 2023 World Cup?
ODI cricket ran in the background with the twin T20 World Cups hogging the limelight for much of the last three years but is now back to mainstream with the ODI World Cup now less than 12 months away. Post the 2019 edition, India have played 42 ODIs - 21 of them in 2022 alone - and have another 18 bilateral ODIs and an Asia Cup to zero in on their best 15. While several of the incumbents were busy with the T20 assignments, several fringe players have grabbed the opportunities that came their way with both hands to stake claims. India have tried 46 players in total post the 2019 World Cup with as many as 22 debutants. The series against Bangladesh will see a near full strength India side kick-starting the journey to the 2023 World Cup as we take a look at who are in contention for the coveted spots.
Incumbents: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan & Virat Kohli
The trio of Rohit, Shikhar and Kohli was the backbone of India's batting lineup in last World Cup but has featured together only in 12 of the 42 ODIs since. India was among the more conservative batting units in Powerplay in leadup to the last World Cup cycle scoring at 4.89 in the first ten overs. In the ODIs post 2019 World Cup, they have been scoring at 5.37 per over in the first ten overs but in the matches Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli batted in the top three, the rate drops to 4.96 - not significantly different from what it was in the previous cycle.
The conservative approach might not be completely obsolete considering two factors: the recent batch of white Kookaburra balls has been swinging more upfront in the last 18 months or so, underlined by the fact that teams are averaging 29.14 and 28.05 in the first ten overs in ODIs in 2021 and 2022 - the two years with lowest averages since 2010. If recent ICC events are something to draw notes from, then we can expect pitches for the next year's World Cup to offer something for the bowlers early on.
Dhawan has appeared in most ODIs for India post 2019 World Cup (34) but a century has eluded him in this period and among the batters with at least ten innings, he is the only one with a sub-90 strike rate (82.43). In the first ten overs Dhawan's strike rate drops under 76 which pales in comparison to the likes of Rohit (88.18), Shubman Gill (90.33), and Prithvi Shaw (116.78). Gill has emerged as the leading backup contender for any of the top three slots while Prithvi Shaw has aggregated tons of runs in domestic circuit at an astonishing strike rate and should India need a more cavalier approach upfront they don't have to look beyond Shaw.
Contenders: Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, Ruturaj Gaikwad
India's top 3 after WC 2019
Incumbents: Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant & KL Rahul
If a non-existent middle order was India's soft underbelly in last World Cup, they have a problem of plenty this time around. Shreyas Iyer, who many believed should have been the #4 in England in 2019, has been India's batting mainstay in the middle order in the last three years averaging 50.75 and striking at 98.54. His issues against short ball notwithstanding, his consistency (13 fifty-plus scores in 27 innings), aggressive game against spin (SR 104.22) and ability to accelerate at the death (SR 141.60) is a valuable asset to have in the middle order. However, Iyer has been in contention in the run up to several World Cups across formats in the past only to miss the final cut losing out to the big name players.
KL Rahul started as #4 in last World Cup but following Dhawan's injury he was shuttled up the order in the middle of the tournament. The story has remained the same since as he has been shuttling between top and middle order depending on the availability of Rohit and Dhawan. He has been excellent in his limited opportunities in the middle order averaging 67 with two centuries and at a strike rate of 109.23, the key stat being his strike rate of 163.50 in death overs.
Rishabh Pant offers a left-handed option and is best suited to play the middle overs disruptor role and evaluating what he brings to the table in terms of average and other measures of consistency is like judging a book by its cover. Pant averages 87 with a strike rate of 111 against spin in ODIs since last World Cup and will play a key matchup taking down spin in the middle phase. In Indian tracks, the spinners will be served better with a specialist behind the wickets which further enhances Pant's case.
Suryakumar Yadav has not replicated his rich T20 form in 50-overs cricket while Sanju Samson has made a compelling case as a finisher and backup wicketkeeper. Deepak Hooda offers matchup option as off spinner but the jury is still out on whether his primary vocation can stand the test against quality opposition attacks.
Contenders: Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi & Rajat Patidar
India's middle order batters (#4 to #7) after WC 2019
Incumbents: Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja
Hardik and Jadeja have both significantly improved their batting numbers since England 2019 and on any day can give 12-15 overs between them. The fact that those two occupy two slots in the top seven means Rohit have enough bowling options to call upon without trading off any the batting depth. Post a lengthy lay off from bowling, Hardik has started to contribute overs regularly while it has to be noted Jadeja's bowling stocks have dipped significantly in this period.
Axar Patel and Washington Sundar are the two leading contenders for Jadeja's spot though both are more bowling oriented options while Shahbaz Ahmed offers a more similar dynamic to Jadeja. Hardik is the only player who doesn't have a like-to-like replacement in India's disposal but Shardul Thakur's stocks as a seam bowling all-rounder have risen considerably in the last 18 months or so. He has shown his striking ability with the bat and is also the leading wicket taker among Indian seamers post last World Cup but has the tendency to hemorrhage runs at the backend of the innings (ER of 8.62 in overs 31 to 50) making him less of a banker with the ball.
Contenders: Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar & Shahbaz Ahmed
India's all-rounders after WC 2019
|Player||Runs||Bat Avg||Bat SR||Wkts||Bowl Avg||Bowl SR|
Incumbents: Yuzvendra Chahal & Kuldeep Yadav
The 'Kul-Cha' spin twins were India's biggest strike weapon in the middle overs in the leadup to last World Cup, but their stocks have fallen away in varying degrees since. Chahal has had a good year in 2022 with several match winning spells and should start as the lead spinner but pairing him with Jadeja would mean India doesn't have a spin option that can take the ball away from left-handers unless they find a spot for Hooda or Sundar in their top seven. The present disposition has often preferred spinners who could bat, as was the case in the recent T20 World Cup, and the upcoming series in Bangladesh doesn't feature a wrist spinner either. But like they have found out the hard way in the T20 World Cup, it could prove difficult for finger spinners to restrict the modern day batters in middle overs, especially with one fewer boundary rider in the middle overs always exposing one open area of the field.
Contenders: Ravi Bishnoi
India's sinners after WC 2019
Incumbents: Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami & Prasidh Krishna
This is one area where India is brimming with options. Bumrah is a sure starter, and his skill and phase versatility would allow the optimal use of other bowlers in the squad in phases where they can deliver their best. Their bowling unit struggled with the new ball for a pretty long period after England 2019 but has turned it around this year following the emergence of Siraj in the circuit who have picked 12 wickets at an ER of 3.85 in Powerplays in 2022. India have been big on new ball wickets which should tilt the scale in Deepak Chahar's favour, but his fitness has been dodgy off late and the management would need him to have more overs under his belt before locking him in. Chahar is unique in the fact he is the only seam bowler who can bat which is vital for a bowling unit that offers little otherwise down the order.
Prasidh Krishna has been impressive in his brief ODI career thus far with his ability to hit hard lengths at good pace which offers a different mode of attack as a middle overs enforcer. Mohammed Shami has been a World Cup specialist for India irrespective of the formats and have been a genuine wicket taker in the 50-over format though his record in the format in the sub-continent pales compared to his overall stats. Left-arm variation has been a force to reckon in the recent ICC events and a premier left-arm seamer has been integral to all top bowling attacks these days. Currently, Arshdeep Singh and Yash Dayal are the two bowlers offering left-arm variety though their body of work in the 50-over formats is very brief. The raw pace of Umran Malik and Kuldeep Sen can be an X-factor and will be a tempting pick for the selectors. To zero in in on 3-4 seamers from this lot will be the biggest headache for the selectors.
Contenders: Deepak Chahar, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Yash Dayal & Kuldeep Sen
India seamers after WC 2019
India's squad for Bangladesh ODIs: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Rajat Patidar, Shreyas Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan, Shahbaz Ahmed, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Deepak Chahar, Yash Dayal.