11.03.2019 Author: C.NAMASIVAYAMAmbati Rayadu's form is a big worry for Team India going into the World Cup. In the current year 2019, Rayadu has scored 245 runs at an average of 35 with only one fifty. The figures are nothing extraordinary for a batsman who was expected to occupy the crucial No 4 position for India in the World Cup not so long ago.
Now with the sudden dip in Rayadu’s batting form, India has to start all over again in search of a No 4 batsman with the World Cup just 3 matches away. It is a pity that every time he steps onto a cricket field, Rayadu has to play for his place.
Rayadu is not the only one who is out of form this year. Shikhar Dhawan’s form is even worse with 264 runs in 10 innings at an average of 29 with 2 fifties. Rohit Sharma too, is not in the best of form.
The saving grace for India has been the exceptional form of MS Dhoni who has scored 301 runs in 7 completed innings at an incredible average of 100 with 4 fifties. Kedar Jadhav is not far behind with 210 runs at an average of 70 with 2 fifties. Then there is King Kohli who is just short of 39 to reach the 500 run mark this year.
The difference between Dhawan and Rayadu is that in the past Dhawan has proved to be a proven match-winner once he got into his rhythm whereas Rayadu has been more of a steady batsman who could do his bit for the success of the team. Besides, after his home turf, Dhawan has scored more ODI runs (976) in England and Wales than in any other place.
Coming back to Ambati Rayadu, he might get another 3 matches to cement his place in the World Cup squad. But the continuous failures of Rayadu has given hope for 3 players to break into the Playing XI for the World Cup. In cricket, as in life, one man’s loss is another man’s gain.
Though players like Ajinkya Rahane have an outside chance of making it to the World Cup squad, one can only feel it is too late for such players to make a late comeback. Hence, those 3 players will have to come from the current squad.
3. Rishabh PantRishabh Pant has so far played in only 3 ODIs for India. But he has the talent to last the distance and he is a player for the future. Pant could achieve a lot in white ball cricket if he shows the same amount of patience as he has shown in Test cricket. He has to be selective in his shot selection and has to restrain himself from going for risky shots at the beginning of his innings.
Pant’s natural attacking instincts are more suited for ODIs than for Tests. Plus, in the current team, he is the only left-hand option in the middle-order. Moreover, it seems the selectors have already made up their mind to prefer Rishabh Pant ahead of Dinesh Karthik for the World Cup. Though a different format, Pant was more successful than Dinesh Karthik in the Test series in England last year.
Ambati Rayadu’s poor form would definitely benefit Rishabh Pant to find a place in the playing XI for the World Cup. If not anything, it should consolidate Pant’s place in the squad.
2 KL RahulKL Rahul has played for India in only 13 ODIs in the last 3 years. Whatever success he had in ODIs had come as an opener. Now the current indifferent form of the regular openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan has made KL Rahul’s selection in the World Cup squad inevitable.
The poor form of Ambati Rayadu in the recent past has opened up the gates for KL Rahul in the middle-order. Though Rahul has batted at No 4 in ODIs on 3 occasions only, his success as a No 4 batsman in T20Is cannot be ignored. He has a remarkable average of 87 batting at No 4 in T20Is.
This only goes to prove that Rahul could adapt himself in the middle-order too if given an extended run. He is a better player of spin and has all the shots in his repertoire to up the ante in the middle overs.
KL Rahul could be a good option to replace Ambati Rayadu in the playing XI if Rayadu’s poor form continues.
1 Vijay ShankarVijay Shankar is the new hero of Indian cricket. He showed tremendous temperament with both the bat and ball in the second ODI against Australia at Nagpur. He came to the batting crease with India reeling at 75 for 3. He should thank the team management and Captain Kohli for promoting him in the batting order ahead of MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav.
Shankar justified his promotion by playing a scintillating inning of 46 off 41 balls before he was unfortunately run-out at the non-striker's end. Again he kept his nerve at a crunch moment of the match. After bowling the 10th over of the innings which went for 13 runs, Shankar was called upon to bowl the last over with only 10 runs in the bank to defend. He once again did not disappoint his teammates by removing the dangerous looking Marcus Stoinis and then uprooting Adam Zampa’s middle stump.
Not only in the Nagpur ODI, but Vijay Shankar has also proved his value to the team in white ball cricket whenever he was given a chance in the recent past. With his recent performances, he certainly deserves a place in the World Cup squad. Now the poor form of Ambati Rayadu should make his claim much easier as a specialist batsman in the team who could contribute with 4 or 5 overs.
Vijay Shankar should be the batting all-rounder in the team while Hardik Pandya should be the bowling all-rounder. There has already been enough talk about promoting Dhoni to No 4 position in batting. Now in the present scenario, by doing so, Vijay Shankar could be accommodated in the playing XI as a batsman at No 5 followed by Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya.
This should give more balance to the team both in batting and bowling. Besides, Vijay Shankar is a terrific fielder. All he has to do is to improve his bowling a bit. He would be better off bowling in the second and third powerplay overs with some protection on the boundary.
If one were to believe in destiny, Vijay Shankar should be in the World Cup squad perhaps at the cost of Ambati Rayadu.