Former cricketer Saba Karim has questioned Team India’s decision to go with just five bowling options in the first ODI of their series against New Zealand on Friday, November 25.
During a discussion on India News Sports, Karima emphasized that instead of having an extra batter in the playing XI, the team management must give preference to an all-rounder. He suggested that Deepak Hooda should have been included in the team for the encounter, as the Men in Blue would have then had a sixth bowling option.
“India didn’t have many options, given that there was no sixth bowler. That made things more difficult. The first thing the team management has to do is identify a sixth bowling option. We have consistently gone with five bowlers in white-ball cricket. I simply cannot understand this strategy.
“Instead of playing an extra batter, why didn’t India play Deepak Hooda? We have to make bold decisions in terms of team selection. The selectors have packed the side with a lot of batters. But where are the all-rounders? If Hardik Pandya isn’t playing, where is another all-rounder to replace him?”
In the same discussion, Virat Kohli’s childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma also pointed out how many of India’s batters have completely stopped bowling lately. He mentioned that Rohit Sharma and Kohli used to bowl frequently in the past but now they appeared to only be focused on their batting.
“Most of the Indian batters were capable of bowling a few overs a few years back. The likes of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, and Rohit Sharma used to bowl. However, that has changed now as the top-order batters don’t bowl these days.
“The team management will have to ask these players to be prepared to bowl in matches. Everyone has gotten into their comfort zone, focusing only on their batting and not willing to contribute with the ball.”
India’s decision to have just five bowlers backfired as the New Zealand batters made a mockery of the team’s 307-run target. Tom Latham (145*) and Kane Williamson (94*) guided the Black Caps to a decisive seven-run win to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.
“We have seen this for many years” – Saba Karim on Indian spinners’ inability to counter batters who play the sweep shot well
Karim went on to state that India’s spinners have struggled against batters who play sweeps and reverse sweeps. He opined that there has to be a change in approach if they want to overcome this particular weakness.
The former India selector noted that to stop such batters from scoring a lot of runs, the captain will have to set the field that doesn’t allow them to sweep freely. He added that the spinners should look to vary their speeds to be able to outsmart their opponents.
“We have seen this for many years: a player who can play the sweep and the reverse sweep well has always troubled the Indian bowlers. Why don’t we prepare well for such batters?
“There has to be a change in pace, or maybe we can set the field accordingly to win that battle. We have to find a way. Otherwise, we will continue to struggle against these batters.”
It is worth mentioning that India’s spin bowlers failed to pick up a single wicket against New Zealand in the first ODI. While Washington Sundar bowled a tidy spell, conceding 42 runs from his 10 overs, Yuzvendra Chahal gave away 67 runs from his full quota of overs.