That Team India is looking to experiment extensively in the coming days to have a solid team for the 2019 World Cup is very much clear after skipper Virat Kohli’s comments at the post-match ceremony following the thumping nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first ODI against Sri Lanka at Dambulla on Sunday (August 20). Kohli had clearly stated that the team needs to start planning for the next World Cup at the earliest and as a result, the team management is looking to experiment a bit here and there.
“I feel we need to start planning for the 2019 World Cup around 24 months in advance, try to experiment a bit here and there. We are taking that as a challenge and are looking to try out different things, things we wouldn’t do usually. You can see a lot of surprises over the next few games. All the guys have bought into it and I am very excited. We thought Axar was a gun fielder and he brings his batting into play; and felt that one wrist spinner is enough. Also, Axar is a power-hitting batsman capable of hitting the big shots and that helps us. If we get a dry wicket we could go in with three spinners and a fast bowling all-rounder. At the start of a series we need to up our batting and Axar brings that balance for us as a team,” Kohli had said after India’s clinical performance.
Well, given Team India’s dominant performance at Dambulla, the team would have surely not tinkered with the combination in general but with the team planning for the all important World Cup, there might be one or two changes. The batting lineup is definitely going to be unchanged as barring the top three, none of the other batsmen got the chance to bat. So one can expect the change in the bowling line up and Yuzvendra Chahal is looking like the possible candidate to make way for chinaman spinner Kuldeep Yadav.
Chahal managed to pick up a couple of wickets but the leg-spinner was the costliest Indian bowler, conceding 6 runs per over in his full quota of 10 overs. On the other hand, Axar Patel was the most impressive Indian bowler, picking up 3 for 34 in his 10 overs and he is unlikely to sit out the next match.
So, one can expect Kuldeep Yadav to replace Chahal in the next ODI. The 22-year old made his Test debut earlier this year against Australia in Dharamsala and made an instant impact by taking 4 for 68, dismissing the likes of David Warner and Glenn Maxwell.
He was not included in the team for the Champions Trophy but was a part of the team that toured West Indies last month for a limited-overs series. He impressed once again and finished the five-match ODI series as its highest wicket-taker. He also impressed during the two-day warm-up game against Sri Lanka Board President’s XI, picking up four wickets. He continued his impressive show in the Test series too, taking up five wickets in the only opportunity he got.
The left-arm spinner has already proved his worth and India will surely want to give him a longer rope to allow him to settle down as quickly as possible.