Although India were among the favorites to win the 2019 World Cup, their one big weakness was an open secret, and got thoroughly exposed in the all-important semi-final against New Zealand, when their batting completely fell apart. There were hints of things to come in Australia’s victory over Virat Kohli’s men in India prior to the World Cup. And, West Indies’ thumping win over India at Chennai is the latest reiteration of the fact that all is not well with India’s ODI squad.

Here’s an analysis of critical issues that are hurting team India’s ODI progress.

1.Continued over-dependence on top order

This has been India’s boon and bane over the last couple of years. When the top three fire, India mostly sizzle. However, if even two of the trio fail, they mostly struggle. And, in the event of all three falling cheaply, disaster strikes.

At Chennai against West Indies, India failed to reach 300, after Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli combined to score less than 50 runs. It proved significant in the end result. Something similar transpired on a much larger scale at Manchester in the World Cup semi-final when each batsman in the top three contributed one run each. In fact, in most of the losses for India in the year, this aspect has stood out.

In the Sydney ODI at the start of the year, India failed to chase 289 despite Rohit’s 133 as Dhawan and Kohli fell for single figure scores. Similarly, in the Ranchi ODI against Australia in March, India could not hunt down a target of 314 despite Kohli smashing 123 from 95. This time, Dhawan and Rohit were dismissed for 1 and 14 respectively.

2.Lack of big-hitting prowess in death overs

There was a time in Indian cricket when they had some of the best finishers in the game in Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni. However, once the powers of the three began to wane, India have struggled to finish with a flourish. The same story played out at Chennai as well as India could not cross 300, a bare minimum in the era of Powerplays, despite the best efforts of Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Kedar Jadhav.

Hardik Pandya is someone who can definitely hit the ball a long way, and has proved his mettle in his short career. But, he too has lacked support. Jadhav has been decent, but he doesn’t have age on his side. India need to identify at least two or three finishers who can give the team the much-needed boost in the final overs. In the absence of the same, India will continue to struggle on days when the top three have a bad day.

3.Injuries hampering India’s bowling prowess

While India’s Test attack remains highly potent despite the absence of the injured Jasprit Bumrah, thanks to Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav all rediscovering their groove, the tale is completely different in the shorter version of the game. Starting with the World Cup, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a key member of the pace bowling attack, has been in and out of the team due to nagging injury issues. As a result, India’s bowling line-up has not had a settled look for a few months.

Add to it, the injuries to Bumrah and Pandya, and things only look worse, until the trio comes back. The likes of Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur do have the potential, but they cannot be expected to deliver match-winning performances in one-dayers overnight. A level of inconsistency has also crept into the bowling of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, as a result of which the think-tank seems to be avoiding playing both of them in the same eleven.

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