Its an understatement to say that India is struggling. The first ODI was a complete disaster. The second ODI was a shade better but a disaster nevertheless. After having reduced SA to 6 down for under 80 runs, SA recovered to 274. Despite this failure to restrict SA to a low score India’s bigger issue at present appears to be its batting. Barring Dravid and a struggling Tendulkar and to some extent Dhoni the rest of the batting appears to be in shambles. Sreesanth’s absence from the 11 is debatable. Otherwise, the team for the second ODI was perhaps the best possible from the 14 on the tour.
Viru’s woeful performance continues. If he fails this series the selectors will do well to send him packing for good. He has been around for too long and done too little to justify his presence in the team.There has been a lot of criticism from the likes of Shastri for not opening the innings with Viru on a permanent basis. But, the dire state of affairs calls for some desperate measures. Viru’s continued failure might leave the captain with no alternative but to shunt him down the order. An out of form Viru in the middle order is still a safer option than Raina or Mongia!
A strategy of saving Viru for the last 15-20 overs might not be a bad experiment. In other words, Viru and Dhoni could swap places in the batting order. i.e., Sachin, Dhoni, Dravid, Kaif, Viru, Karthik, Pathan, Bhajji, Kumble, Zaheer, Sreesanth. Bhajji appears to be struggling and considering India’s continued batting failure it might be worthwhile bringing in Mongia in place of Bhajji. Between Sachin, Viru and Mongia, India should be able to cover for Bhajji’s absence.