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After a month in the West Indies, Team India now takes on Ireland and then comes the first of the big challenges - the Asia Cup. While everyone expected India to thrash the weak Windies side easily, it wasn’t to be so. India did win the Test series 1-0 but it was the white ball leg of the tour that held greater significance ahead of the ODI World Cup in October and T20 World Cup in West Indies next year. Surprisingly, India struggled to beat the Windies in the ODI series and worse, they lost 3-2 in the T20s leaving a lot of questions unanswered even as the clock ticks away for selecting the World Cup squad!

India had not been beaten by the Windies in Test matches since 2002 and kept this unbeaten streak alive. The 1-0 margin could easily have been 2-0 but for rain in the second match. It was a good outing for most Indian batters as Rohit and Kohli regained their form. Both scored a century a piece and looked fluent even though it wasn’t the sternest of tests for the stalwarts. On the bowling front, Mohammed Siraj and Ravi Ashwin were at the top of their game and helped India dominate the series.

The find of the Test series, however, was Yashasvi Jaiswal who produced a scintillating century on debut and also scored a half century in the second match. Though his domestic performance was quite impressive, he shot into limelight through an exceptional IPL season. But strangely, he wasn’t played in the ODIs and was kept out of the first two T20s games. At a time when India was looking to test its bench strength ahead of the World Cup and Rohit- Kohli were rested for the shorter formats, it was the best time to play Jaiswal. When given a chance, he hit a match winning 84 not out in the 4th T20 game and kept his name in contention for the World Cup squad.

Besides Jaiswal, another left-handed opener, Ishan Kishan, played brilliantly, especially in the One Dayers. He hit 3 consecutive half centuries in the ODIs and was safe behind the wickets as well. In the absence of K.L Rahul, he is a strong addition to the Indian line-up and can bolster the World Cup team. In contrast, the popular Sanju Samson couldn’t live up to expectations. Though he hit one classy half-century, his performance overall was a tad disappointing - and the keeper-batsman slot seems to be settling in Ishan’s favour.

Unfortunately, India is still struggling to find their number 4 and as Rohit pointed out , this is a position that has long been India’s Achilles heel! In recent years, Shreyas Iyer had cemented his place at 4 with an ODI average of 46 plus. But his long absence due to a back injury and a comeback for the World Cup still unclear, has put India in jeopardy. Suryakumar Yadav has been given many chances but has failed to do well in ODIs. Now, the buzz suggests that if Team India don’t have Shreyas or Rahul in the middle order, Virat may be asked to bat at number 4, by putting Kishan at the top and Rohit at number 3.

One of the biggest misses in the series was Shubman Gill. He recorded a string of low scores across the 3 formats and looked uncomfortable at the crease. Gill was the star player for India early this year - and his sublime touch will be much needed if India has to go the distance in the World Cup. Meanwhile, young southpaw Tilak Verma was the surprise hit of the T20 series. His fearless batting enabled Team India to claw back from 2-0 behind to 2-2 in the series. While he hasn’t played any One Dayers, many feel that he may be included in the middle order even for the World Cup!

With India’s top bowlers recovering from injuries, Kuldeep Yadav took it upon himself to lead the bowling attack. He seems to be in great rhythm and is peaking at the right time. It will be interesting to see whether India plays the Kul-Cha jodi (Kuldeep Yadav- Yuzvendra Chahal) in the World Cup.

For the moment, all eyes are focused on India’s clash with Ireland, one of the rising teams in world cricket. Of course, Jasprit Bumrah will be the centre of all attention as he returns to national duty after a long injury lay off. Everyone in the cricketing fraternity will be closely watching his progress - for if Boom Boom can quickly regain his rhythm, he could give the Indian bowling attack a cutting edge that could ensure glory for Rohit and his warriors in the upcoming ODI World Cup.


Siddhaarth Mahan The writer is a specialist on Sports and Cinema who works as an actor in the Hindi film industry

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