Indian cricket team has just lost the ODI series against Australia with a game to go. Australia has been dominant with both bat and ball, more so with the bat which has exposed the combination of the Indian team. The bowlers have been clueless on batting-friendly surfaces of the SCG and add to that is the lack of a much-debated sixth bowling option, with Hardik Pandya not back to his full bowling fitness yet.
For a long, India’s ODI combination has been flawed, even when Hardik Pandya was the fifth bowling option, which he is not. Flaws in India’s combination were covered up by the mountain of runs scored by India’s top 3 along with the emergence of Kuldeep Yadav & Yuzi Chahal as attacking options in the middle overs as they used to pick up wickets regularly. Add to this was the right arm “under the waist” bowling of Kedar Jadhav and the team sailed through to some memorable victories.
What has led to this slump in India’s ODI fortunes?
This made me compare the performance of India’s spinners in five ODI series before and after the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019 and the results point to a distinct drop in the performance across all key metrics.
While the economy rate i.e. runs per over has gone up from 5.02 to 5.82, the average i.e. runs conceded per wicket taken has gone up drastically from 28.85 to 50.76.At the same time strike rate i.e. balls taken per wicket which was 34.50 has gone up to 52.30. Also, the percentage of dot balls, which was almost 50% before the World Cup has gone down to 43.70% whereas the percentage of runs conceded in boundaries which were around 40% has gone up to almost 45 %.
Why this sudden slump in the performance of spinners?
One of the key reasons is that the new ball bowlers who used to take early breakthroughs, provided a cushion to the spinners to bowl the way they wanted as the opposition batsmen were always wary of losing wickets however if we look more recently, India’s new-ball bowlers haven’t been able to pick up early wickets thereby allowing their opponent to bat with freedom when the spinners operate. And of course, there is a small matter of a certain MS Dhoni not behind the stumps anymore to guide the spinners.
What is the recourse?
There is no quick-fix solution for this till the selectors and the team management find a couple of batters in the top six who can roll their arm over for a few overs and a genuine all-rounder is unearthed who can bring a semblance of a balance to the playing XI.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.