Blunt in the middle - India has a bowling problem to solve

Blunt in the middle – India has a bowling problem to solve

If it is true that India is trying a huge pool of playersthe manner of their defeats in Bangladesh will be unnerving, as their inexperienced bowling attack had set them close to winning in the first two ODIs despite losing the draw in both.

Defend only 186 in the series opener, India had cut the hosts to 136 for 9 before Mehidy Hasan Miraz scored a miraculous one-wicket win. Three days laterIndia had Bangladesh 69 for 6 at bat first, but Mehidy thwarted them again with a sensational 100 from 83 balls, becoming only the second batter to mark a century at No. 8 in the ODIs.

The two failures may not have revealed India’s strategies per se, as they are far from full strength with Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja injured, but it is a wake-up call. as their focus shifts from T20Is to ODIs ahead of next year’s Worlds. Cup. Do India have enough attacking options through the middlemen? Home World Cup throws could be unforgiving for bowlers during the middle overs as conditions ease like they did in Dhaka this week, further forcing bowling teams to try and break partnerships.

This happened in the second ODI after the initial swing and seam motion subsided, and Mehidy and Mahmudullah started playing with more ease, breaking Bangladesh’s highest partnership record against India. Their seventh wicket of 148 started in the 20th and did not end until the 47th.

ODI’s middle overs – overs 11 to 40 – have been a problem for India for some time. They have the highest saving rate in this phase since the start of 2020 – 5.56, compared to 4.92 in New Zealand and 5.04 in Australia. Even for ODI at home in the same period, India’s economy of 5.76 in the middle is only better than England and South Africa. While England may have the batting power to make up for the extra runs conceded, the same cannot be said for India or most other teams at the moment.

After the loss in the second ODI on Wednesday, India captain Rohit Sharma said their bowling down the middle was a problem they needed to address and they needed to do it quickly.

“From 70 for 6, allowing them to get 270 odd was not a great effort on the part of our bowlers,” Rohit said after the game. “We started very well, and the midfield and the back is something that hurts a bit. It happened in the first game and today as well. It’s something we have to realize quickly because we don’t have much time [before the next World Cup]we need to focus on what we need to do as individuals and give them that specific role to go out and do it.”

After the Bangladesh tour, India have three home ODI series (T20I and Tests as well) against Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia starting in January and ending before the IPL. These nine ODIs – three against each team – are an opportunity to try and identify their best bowlers for the intermediates under home conditions and then prepare them for the World Cup.

Since 2020, India’s top wicket takers in the middles were Shardul Thakur (26 wickets at 25:15 each), Yuzvendra Chahal (22 at 32:31 each), Kuldeep Yadav (17 at 47), Prasidh Krishna (16 at 22:31) and Washington Sundar (10 at 22:20). Thakur has been a regular in the ODI squad lately while Chahal is the favorite among spinners but is India also seriously considering Kuldeep Yadav given he didn’t play a game in from the New Zealand tour and was dropped from the ODI squad in Bangladesh? Washington is another promising option emerging for the spin-allrounder spot with Jadeja and Axar Patel.

When you look at the Indian bowlers with the best saving rates in the middle of the ODIs since 2020, Mohammed Siraj (4.89) leads the way followed by Prasidh (5.14), Avesh Khan (5.26), Bumrah (5 .34) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (5.47). ). Avesh has now fallen behind in the pecking order and Bhuvneshwar has hardly played an ODI this year, leaving Siraj and Prasidh, who is currently injured, as the best pace options in the middle.

Coach Rahul Dravid has lamented that India have been plagued with injuries of late but hopes they will have a fully fit contingent to choose from in the new year. And when Jadeja, Shami, Prasidh and Bumrah return to full fitness, India will have plenty of options to hone their best combination.

“Hopefully from January we should have – injury dependent – a full squad and something that we will definitely look into,” Dravid said after the series loss in Bangladesh. “The opportunity to see how we can take wickets in the middle, I thought we did well today, but there was a phase where we let that partnership build. So good learnings for us in these games especially in these kind of conditions that Bangladesh is used and playing very well Obviously for us once we can select from our full squad in January hopefully we can look to resolve all these issues .

India’s second-string attack have one more game in Bangladesh to show what they can do, before competition for places intensifies early next year.

Vishal Dikshit is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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