India’s recent slump in ODI’s has been profusely baffling for everyone. Choking and making a mess of easy games was never an option for a side that has just mastered the art of run chasing in the modern day game. At once there was a famous saying in ODIs that no total below 350 was ever safe against India. But these days, the men in blue, led by the inspiring MS Dhoni are even struggling to chase down 270! This has been simply catastrophic for a team like India, which has players like Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma in the ranks.
Barring the World Cup, where the Indians won 7 out of the 8 games, everything in limited overs in 2015 has been shambolic for Dhoni’s side. 2015 began for India on a somber note, as the Indians were simply blown away in a tri-series featuring Australia and England. The World Cup, however, brought some cheer as the Indian bowlers led the way with some emphatic performances. Post the World Cup, all the misery and agony returned with Bangladesh thrashing India 2-1.
But the most worrying aspect now has been India’s failure while chasing against South Africa. Against quality South African bowling, the men in blue have faltered miserably. Thereby, it is imperative to analyze the reasons behind India’s woes in ODI’s. Below, are the five points that highlight India’s struggles in ODI’s.
1. Overdependence on certain players:
Over depending on certain individuals within a team to perform is never the appropriate measure. Ironically, the Indians have been guilty of that! While chasing, the Indians were reliant on Dhoni and Kohli to guide them to victory. However, since the last 12 to 15 months, their respective batting abilities have taken a hit. Dhoni is no longer the dreaded finisher he was and Kohli too seems to have rusted a bit. In this span, India’s savior has been Rohit Sharma. In ODI’s this year, Rohit Sharma tops the runs chart with 778 runs in 15 games at an average of 55.57. Virat Kohli, on whom the team has relied massively on, is 300 runs short of Sharma’s tally despite playing 3 games more! That stat is enough to depict the end result of depending heavily on just one batsman.
2. Shuffling batting order too often:
Ever since Yuvraj Singh fell out of favor, the Indians have struggled for a reliable number 4 batsman. Ambati Rayudu did well enough in the limited chances he got, but more often than not, he was seen warming the benches. In the ongoing series against South Africa as well, the batting order has been shuffled too often. In the first couple of games, Virat Kohli batted at 4, while Rahane batted at 3. However, in the Rajkot ODI, Kohli was promoted to 3, with Rahane being demoted to 5. Doing so not only adversely affects the confidence of a batsman, but also shatters the stability of the batting unit. The number 4 position has been a sore spot for the Indians in 2015 since only two batsmen have batted there in more than 5 innings. Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli have done that, and they average 36.16 and 9.75 respectively.
3. Woes in the middle overs:
The middle overs are said to be a very significant juncture in ODIs. In order to ensure success, the batsmen often have to milk the singles and run efficiently, since in those overs it is difficult to score boundaries with ease. In the third ODI against South Africa, the Indian batsman should have breezed to their target. That seemed the exact possibility till the 30th over. But then, from the 30th to the 40th over, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni went into a shell which gave the visitors a sniff. The two menacing batsmen played as many as 35 dots from over number 30 to 39. Almost 6 maiden overs during such an important phase undoubtedly punctured India’s run chase.
4. Irresponsible shot making:
The shot selection of a few Indian batsmen has been very ordinary and questionable. What on earth was Suresh Raina trying to prove in the first 3 ODI’s against South Africa? Just because he has been assigned the role of a finisher, he seems to have taken things for granted. In the first ODI, he slogged in the very over a wicket had fallen and was caught at the boundary. In the second ODI as well, he was clearly set up by Morne Morkel with the short ball ploy. Raina is an experienced individual, and it is expected that he should deal with things in a more mature fashion. Once again there was a brain fade moment from Raina as he tried to slog Imran Tahir very early on and was caught at the boundary. MS Dhoni’s dismissal, where he played a half-hearted shot off Morne Morkel too did not help India’s cause.
5. Poor start at the top:
India’s woes while opening the batting are definitely damaging their entire batting unit. Rohit Sharma this year has been in great form. But the same cannot be definitely said about Shikhar Dhawan. Even though Dhawan was India’s leading run-getter in the 2015 World Cup, his otherwise performances have been ordinary. Dhawan gets stuck at the top against quality bowling, and let alone hitting boundaries, he even struggles to rotate the strike. This adds excess pressure on Rohit Sharma and the other batsmen. In the third ODI, Dhawan scored 13 off 29 balls and due to playing slowly, he added extra pressure on himself. Dhawan also is guilty of wasting out on a start and throwing it away by playing a rash shot. Despite having a great World Cup with the bat, Dhawan this year averages 37.66, as opposed to his career average of 43.23, and his strike rate too has fallen by 5 runs.