Here are a few key takeaways from this game for Team India..
- Bhajji delivers under pressure: The presence of Romesh Powar seems to have produced an inspired show by Bhajji both with the bat and ball. Competition is good and keeps everyone honest. I thought India might go in with Powar given his batting talents and his current bowling form. Hats off to the team management for persisting with Bhajji. A gamble that paid off given his run of poor form at least from a wicket taking perspective.
- Viru’s struggle continues: It might be time to think of a counter strategy since the situation has persisted for a while. Open with Dhoni (or someone new) and drop Viru down the order, perhaps. He could come in very useful in the last 15 overs.
- Lack of a genuine allrounder: Yuvraj might have done a great job with the ball today, but if the plan is to groom him for the fifth bowler slot India’s think tank should make sure that he bowls his quota in every match. These recent victories are hiding India’s primary weakness — Lack of a genuine all rounder. Someone who routinely bowls his quota of 10 overs and is capble of making a big score from time to time a la Flintoff, Symonds, Kallis, Dilshan, Styris, Afridi, Razzack. Since the team is on a winning streak there is no talk of it these days and JP Yadav has quietly dropped out of sight. In short, the team is back to 3 seamers plus one spinner and no real genuine 5th bowler. In difficult times, this weakness is likely to be exposed. This series is India’s best chance to explore all rounder options.
Lastly, a salute to the curators at the Kotla. ODIs don’t have to be run fests! Here was a pitch that had plenty for fast bowlers and spinners and for batsmen who were wiling to apply themselves. Naturally, we ended up with a well fought ODI where both bowlers and batsman had a role to play. Lets hope to see more ODI pitches of this kind!