Focus on batters Iyer and Surya in dress rehearsal
The two Mumbai batters, both very different players from each other, are fighting their own little battles to be a part of the most important tournament of their lives.
MOHALI: Shreyas Iyer’s dodgy match-fitness will be put to ultimate test while Suryakumar Yadav’s desperation to alter a dismal ODI record adds a fascinating sub-text to India’s three-game series against Australia, which also serves as final dress rehearsal before the World Cup, beginning next month.
With pillars of Indian batting – skipper Rohit Sharma and the brilliant Virat Kohli -- resting for the first two games along with lead spinner Kuldeep Yadav and premier all-rounder Hardik Pandya, it will be head coach Rahul Dravid’s final chance to assess his bench strength.
The two Mumbai batters – both very different players from each other -- are fighting their own little battles to be a part of the most important tournament of their lives.
The 28-year-old Iyer hasn’t played much cricket in last six months due to stress fracture surgery. A stiff back just before an Asia Cup match against Pakistan raised questions about his fitness.
As chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar has said that Iyer is good to go in the three games but whether his body is holding for 100 overs during the three games over next five days, will be observed keenly.
As much as Ishan Kishan has done his bit, India will need Iyer, the proverbial slayer of spin bowling in the middle overs during the World Cup. For Surya, literally ‘SKY’ has been the limit in T20Is but before anything else, he perhaps needs an uncluttered mind about what kind of role he is looking at in ODI cricket.
Tilak Varma is hot on his heels and at 33, he won’t practically get a shot at another 50-over World Cup.
The small quadriceps tear that left-arm spinner Axar Patel suffered has opened an unlikely door for 37-year-old Ravichandran Ashwin to play his third and what could likely be his last 50 over World Cup in case the former doesn’t recover in time. Even two weeks back, Ashwin was not even on Indian team management’s radar and now the crafty veteran and his younger state-mate Washington Sundar are locked in a battle for an outside chance to make it to the squad.
If one goes by the buzz, Ashwin, even if he doesn’t do well in the upcoming games, is way ahead of Washington in terms of probable chance of a look-in. Ashwin’s battle against David Warner and Steve Smith could be a fan’s delight.
But, there is every possibility that even if Ashwin does brilliantly, the team management will go with Axar if he recovers in time and plays the third ODI. With no Rohit at the top of the order, Kishan is likely to open with Shubman Gill while Kohli’s place is taken by Iyer, who needs game time.
India hasn’t rested any of its fast bowlers but Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj may play two of the three games as three 50-over games have been slotted in five days and it also includes travel.