MS Dhoni and the other India players with a point to prove in ODI series

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Dhoni (r) is enduring a dismal 2018 with the bat.

With the Test series between India and the West Indies done and dusted, the two sides will not turn their attention to the five-match ODI series which gets underway at Guwahati on October 21.

With the 2019 ICC World Cup in England now under eight months away, India will be hoping to use the series as a drawing board for the preparations for the tournament.

With the team for the World Cup still taking shape, plenty of Indian players will have a lot at stake in the clashes against the Windies.

Here, we look at three India players who will be under pressure to perform for various reasons.

UMESH YADAV

The pacer only finds himself in the squad after an injury ruled out Shardul Thakur for the series but he will be itching to carry over his excellent Test form into white-ball cricket.

Buoyed by his man-of-the-match display in the second Test against the Windies where he became only the third Indian pacer to pick up a 10-wicket match haul at home, Umesh Yadav will be hoping to ruffle some Windies feathers in the ODI series as well.

The 30-year-old has been unfortunate to fall behind in the pecking order of India’s pace battery of late but he has sent a timely reminder of his prowess with his showing in the Hyderabad Test.

Umesh will be eager to grab the opportunity with both hands after having played only 10 ODIs for India since the turn of 2017. A formidable showing in the one-day series could help the fast-bowler stake a permanent claim to a World Cup berth and given some of his sensational spells in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore this year, that scenario could very much be a possibility.

Umesh has a chance to reaffirm his limited-overs credentials.

Umesh has a chance to reaffirm his limited-overs credentials.

MS DHONI

When the year began, MS Dhoni was a certainty to take the gloves for India in the 2019 World Cup. However, with seven months or so left to go for the global showcase, the veteran’s position in the squad is suddenly in jeopardy for the first time.

Dhoni has endured a dismal 2018 with the bat in hand although his glove work remains impeccable. In 10 ODI innings this year, the 37-year-old has been only able to muster a paltry 225 runs at an average of just over 28. The India stalwart has failed a register a single half-century this year and was even booed by certain sections of the crowd for his slow batting strike-rate during India’s tour of England.

The selectors have handed Rishabh Pant a call up to the ODI squad after the young wicketkeeper batsman’s stellar Test outings. Whether Dhoni is given the gloves for the Windies series remains to be seen but he will know that he has a hungry youngster breathing down his neck when he next comes out to bat.

A hungry Rishabh Pant is breathing down Dhoni's neck.

A hungry Rishabh Pant is breathing down Dhoni’s neck.

KL RAHUL

It has been quite the year for KL Rahul who came storming back into form with a stupendous individual campaign for the Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. That form saw the Karnataka batsman given an extended run as India’s Test opener in the tour of England but he failed to take his chance bar a fine knock of 149 in the final match at the Oval. Those Test disappointments have followed Rahul all the way to India with another poor show in the series against the Windies ensuing.

His poor form in international cricket has not just been limited to the Test format. The 26-year-old scored only nine runs in two ODIs against England and that form saw his get just one solitary game in India’s title-winning Asia Cup campaign despite Virat Kohli being given a rest. The sole appearance came in the dead-rubber clash against Afghanistan where Rahul put together an innings of 60.

With Ambati Rayudu pushing his case for inclusion in the World Cup squad with a fine Asia Cup showing, there won’t be many more chances for Rahul to finally come good.

KL Rahul is running out of chances.

KL Rahul is running out of chances.

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PCB chief Ehsan Mani extends invitation to Australia to tour Pakistan

Waseem Ahmed 09:00 18/10/2018
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Pakistan are hunting for victory on the fourth day

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Ehsan Mani has encouraged Australia to tour Pakistan as he seeks to get international cricket back to the country in a big way.

International cricket in Pakistan came to a standstill following the terrorist attacks on the touring Sri Lankan team bus in 2009. Lately, international cricket returned to Pakistan slowly with the likes of Sri Lanka and the West Indies sending their teams for bilateral matches.

Mani had an opportunity to meet with incoming Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts on the sidelines of the ongoing Test series between Pakistan and Australia in the UAE.

The PCB head raised the prospect of Australia touring Pakistan during the meeting.

“Obviously they rely on the High Commission’s advice, but a lot of it is a matter of perception. I am yet to meet people who, once they’ve been to Pakistan, have any concerns about going there,” Mani was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

PCB chairman Ehsan Mani.

PCB chairman Ehsan Mani.

The PCB chief is optimistic of big international teams touring Pakistan in the near future.

“It will certainly happen sooner or later. It’s a matter of comfort levels. We are getting PSL matches played in Pakistan, foreign players are coming for that. We’ve had a couple of other teams come and play, but I really want Australia, New Zealand, England to come,” he stated.

The last time Australia toured Pakistan was all the way back in 1998. Last year, current Australia Test skipper Tim Paine was part of the ICC World XI which toured Pakistan for a historic T20I series.

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Jasprit Bumrah unperturbed by fears of injury surrounding his bowling action

Sudhir Gupta 23:27 17/10/2018
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Bumrah employs an unorthodox bowling action.

Jasprit Bumrah might be perched at the top of ICC’s ODI rankings for bowlers but his unorthodox bowling action has seen many fear an injury is round the corner ever since he made his international debut.

Having established himself as one of the premier bowlers in the limited-overs formats, Bumrah’s transition to red-ball cricket has been equally seamless with the pacer now a frontline bowler for India in Test cricket.

Despite his rapid rise, Bumrah’s bowling action has attracted scrutiny with many former players expressing their reservations over its long-term durability.

However, Bumrah remains unperturbed by such fears.

“I don’t focus on what the experts are saying or not,” the India man told Scroll.

“I focus on what has helped me and and I try to focus on my body and what do I need to keep myself fit. There is no perfect action in cricket. Tell me a bowler who has not got injured. I focus on how to improve my fitness levels,” Bumrah added.

Bumrah is the No1 ranked ODI bowler in the world.

Bumrah is the No1 ranked ODI bowler in the world.

The 24-year-old was handed a rest in the recently concluded Test series against the West Indies after his exertions in England and the Asia Cup but he will have a big role to play when India’s tour of Australia gets underway at the end of the year.

Ahead of what will be his maiden Test tour of Australia, Bumrah is keeping an open mind with regards to the conditions on offer.

“When I reach Australia, I will assess the wickets. Because sometimes going there with pre-conceived notions and then it doesn’t happen, so you are in no space. I’ll go there, see the conditions and plan according to that,” he explained.

The rest afforded to the pacer after a long summer has also recharged Bumrah’s batteries.

“It is always good to have a break. Whenever you return from the break, the hunger is back, the body is fresh, you are up and running in good spirit,” said the India man.

Bumrah has been given a further rest by the team management with the pacer not selected for the first two ODIs against the Windies.

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