Pace reserves looking bare and other things learned for India ahead of series decider

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India pacer Mohammed Siraj was unconvincing on ODI debut.

After tasting a 34-run defeat in the opener at Sydney, India stormed back to level the three-match ODI series with a six-wicket victory at Adelaide.

The ODI series against the Australia serves as a chance for Virat Kohli and his men to finetune their preparations for the 2019 ICC World Cup in England and as such, they will be looking to put on a fine show in the upcoming decider at Melbourne.

With the series on the line, we take a look at three things the Men in Blue have learned ahead of the series decider.

NUMBER FOUR CONUNDRUM REMAINS FOR INDIA

After Ambati Rayudu’s performance in the Asia Cup last year, India thought they had solved their number four conundrum ahead of the World Cup. However, the last two ODIs have shown that question marks still remain over Rayudu who has failed to make the position his own of late.

The top-order batsman was dismissed for a duck in the series opener at Sydney and threw away his wicket after generating a decent start in the Adelaide clash.

There have been calls to move wicketkeeper MS Dhoni up the batting order to number four given his waning powers with the bat down the order, but the veteran’s performance in the two matches will have once again thrown a spanner in the works in that regard.

While India’s top-order remains one of the best in limited-overs cricket, the middle order is still unconvincing at best and there is plenty of work still to do to fix this gaping hole in the coming few months.

Rayudu has failed to make the number position his own.

Rayudu has failed to make the number position his own.

PACE RESERVES FAILING TO CONVINCE

While Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar form a formidable new-ball pairing with the white ball for India and Mohammed Shami provides a solid third seaming option, India’s pace cupboard beyond the three is looking bare.

Khaleel Ahmed was initially being eyed to fill that role by Kohli with the youngster’s left-arm pace bringing in some much-needed variety in the fast-bowling attack. However, a listless display in Sydney by Ahmed saw India turn to debutant Mohammed Siraj in Adelaide.

Siraj was highly expensive in his debut ODI and was carted for 76 runs in his 10 overs. The Hyderabad-born pacer has impressed in his red-ball outings for India A in recent times, but looks ill-suited to the limited-overs format at the moment.

It will be important for India to find a backup to the three frontline pacers before the World Cup gets under way and they will have to take a quick call on whom they choose to groom for that role in the next few months or so.

Khaleel Ahmed looked off-colour in the first ODI.

Khaleel Ahmed looked off-colour in the first ODI.

RAVINDRA JADEJA PROVIDING AN ALTERNATIVE TO PANDYA

Two big gaping holes have been exposed in the two matches so far for India, but the performances of Ravindra Jadeja will please the team management no end.

With Hardik Pandya facing an uncertain future in the ODI squad post his controversial remarks on a television show, Jadeja has shown that he can fill in aptly in the all-rounder’s slot. The southpaw has not been afforded many chances with the bat so far in the series but his performances with the ball and in the field have been excellent.

With the all-rounder’s slot being crucial to India’s team balance in the World Cup, Jadeja’s recent resurgence in limited-overs cricket has come at the perfect time and will ease some of the headaches of Kohli and the team management.

Whether Pandya makes a comeback in the international arena in the near future remains to be seen but for now, Jadeja has shown that a viable alternative exists in his position.

Jadeja has been excellent in limited-overs cricket since his return.

Jadeja has been excellent in limited-overs cricket since his return.

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