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Why do Ishant, Rohit still have Dhoni's backing?

January 23, 2014 12:05 IST
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Why do Ishant, Rohit still enjoy Dhoni's backing?

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Harish Kotian

India's bowlers have conceded 300-plus totals in seven of India's last 14 ODIs, out of which three were in excess of 350, points out Harish Kotian, as the World Champions lose their No 1 ODI ranking.

The One Day International series between India, rankied No 1 in the world till Wednesday's defeat in the second game, and the No 8 ranked New Zealand was supposed to be a no-contest, but the World Champions were shocked with back-to-back defeats.

Add to this, India's rout in the ODI series in South Africa in December, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his side have lost four one-day games in a row.

In the ODI series at home against Australia last winter, India scraped through with a 3-2 margin, winning the last two games on the strength of its batting on flat pitches.

With the World Cup to be played in Australia and New Zealand next year, India are struggling to find the ideal combination. That was not what happened ahead of the last tournament in the sub-contintent when India had a settled team, with a good blend of experience and youth.

India's main concern is its bowling attack and the poor form of openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.

The bowlers have conceded 300-plus totals in seven of India's last 14 ODIs, out of which three were in excess of 350.

The most disappointing performer in the recent debacles is India's most experienced bowler.

Ishant Sharma has gone from bad to worse.

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Image: Ishant Sharma, India's most experienced bowler, has gone from bad to worse.
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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Why do Ishant, Rohit still enjoy Dhoni's backing?

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Harish Kotian

Not many bowlers would have retained a place in the side after being hit for 30 runs in an over.

Remember James Faulker thrashing Ishant during the third India-Australia ODI in Mohali last October?

But Ishant continues to enjoy his captain's backing despite his awful performances.

In the two ODIs in New Zealand, he has been hit for 118 runs in 15 overs and taken just two wickets.

In his column in the Gulf News newspaper on Wednesday, Sunil Gavaskar felt the lanky bowler, instead of learning from his mistakes, continues to repeat them.

The selectors, Gavaskar wrote, would have to take 'a call on Ishant Sharma, who unfortunately is either unwilling to learn or is incapable of it, for newcomers like Mohammad Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are bowling good yorkers and stemming the flow of runs, while Ishant continues to bowl the short of length deliveries and see the ball disappear into the stands.'

With Varun Aaron and Ishwar Pandey in the reserves, I feel Ishant should be dropped from the Auckland game.

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Image: Harish Kotian feels Ishant Sharma should be dropped for the Auckland game.
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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Why do Ishant, Rohit still enjoy Dhoni's backing?

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Harish Kotian

There is another Sharma whose patchy form has become a headache for Team India.

After scoring a double century in the seventh ODI against Australia in Bangalore in November, Rohit Sharma's form has traveled downhill.

After hitting 72 in the next game against the West Indies, he has scored just one run more -- 76 runs -- in six innings and been at sea in South Africa and New Zealand where fast bowlers get a bit of help early on with the new ball.

In New Zealand, when the team needed quick starts while chasing targets in excess of 290 in the ODIs, Rohit ended up with strike rates of 13 (three from 23 balls) and 58 (20 from 34 balls) in the two games!

With the selectors turning a blind eye to the experienced Gautam Gambhir for all formats of the game despite the left-hander's good showing in the Ranji Trophy, and the struggling Virender Sehwag out of contention, who will replace Rohit at the top of the batting order?

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Image: After hitting 72 in the game against the West Indies, Rohit Sharma has scored just one run more -- 76 runs -- in six innings!
Photographs: Harry Engels/Getty Images

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Why do Ishant, Rohit still enjoy Dhoni's backing?

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Harish Kotian

One option as opener is Ajinkya Rahane. Ambati Rayudu can then take Ajinkya's current place in the middle order.

Suresh Raina produced a timely all-round performance (1 for 18 and 35 from 22 balls) in the Hamilton game to ward off the critics for now.

But he remains under the scanner after a string of poor performances. Raina needs to show more consistency and sort out his deficiencies against the short ball before he is ejected from the side.

Ravindra Jadeja's disappointing showing in South Africa and New Zealand will force the team management to take a serious look at other options.

Stuart Binny, a consistent performer for the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premiership League and in domestic cricket with Karnataka, deserves a look in.

India needs a medium pace all-rounder rather than a spinning all-rounder considering the pace-friendly wickets the team will encounter in next year's World Cup.

Irfan Pathan, who made a successful comeback from injury in domestic cricket, is a good option for this role..

Mahendra Singh Dhoni needs to put sentiment aside and get his team out of its current losing trajectory.


Image: India needs a medium pace all-rounder rather than a spinning all-rounder like Ravindra Jadeja considering the pace-friendly wickets the team will encounter in next year's World Cup.
Photographs: BCCI

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