Following India’s 66-run defeat to Australia on Friday, plenty of issues have come to light. India’s fielding looked rusty and the bowling attack appeared weak. Call it the result of not playing one-day cricket in nine months, but for most players who are coming off playing the IPL, a sloppy performance such as the one displayed at the Sydney Cricket Ground is not the true reflection of the No. 2 ODI team in the world.
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Besides lacklustre fielding and toothless bowling, the lack of a sixth bowling option is what caused India most damage. With their frontline bowlers looking out of touch, and Hardik Pandya not allowed to bowl due to injury management, the Indian bowlers took a pounding which saw Australia set them a target of 375. Former India batsman Gautam Gambhir has highlighted the same, saying the problem of the team dealing with the sixth-bowler conundrum is not new.
“It’s been happening since what… the last World Cup. If Hardik Pandya is not fit, where is your sixth bowling option?” Gambhir said on ESPNCricinfo.
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“Yes, you can talk about putting in Manish Pandey, but again, even if Rohit Sharma comes back into the Playing XI, the problem which you’re facing right now, you will face it then as well because there is no one in the top six who can give you’re a couple of overs.”
Gambhir explained how Australia are a stark contrast to India in the same department, their squad boasting numerous batting and bowling all-rounders. With Pandya injured, Gambhir feels there is one more all-rounder who is capable of filling the extra bowler spot for India, but remains apprehensive of his impact.
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“On the other hand, if you see, the Australian side, they’ve got Moises Henriques, who can give you a couple of overs, Sean Abbott, who’s a bowling all-rounder. They’ve got Daniel Sams, who can bowl and bat,” he added.
“From India’s point of view, if Hardik Pandya is not fit, where is your replacement? It’s only Vijay Shankar whom I can think of but does he have the same impact batting at No. 5 or 6. Can he give you 7-8 overs? I’ve got my doubts.”