The ODIs between India and Sri Lanka ended with the visitors clinching the series 2-1. Sri Lanka did put up a fight, but their inexperience cost them in crucial moments.
Sans several big stars, who are in England for the Test series, a new-look Indian ODI side coached by Rahul Dravid took the field against Sri Lanka. The newcomers impressed with their skills as they returned with a series win, and we take a look at the takeaways from the three games.
Suryakumar Yadav, Rahul Chahar are here to stay
Suryakumar is one of the most talented players on the Indian circuit. Exceptional against both spin and pace, the Mumbai Indians batsman is the perfect fit in the middle order in ODIs. Suryakumar ended with the Player of the Series award for his 124 runs in three innings at a strike-rate of 123. With KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer in the fold as well, the Indian middle order is bursting with options after years of dilemma over the next number four following Yuvraj Singh’s retirement.
Rahul Chahar played just a single game in the ODI series, but was the standout player from India in the third match, as he ended with 3-54 in his 10 overs. He started off with a googly and troubled batters with his slower deliveries throughout his spell. He dismissed Avishka Fernando with traditional leg spin, and deceived Chamika Karunaratne with a sharp turner. He could have picked up another scalp if Prithvi Shaw had latched onto an easy chance at gully. Chahar emerged as one of the positives from the tour, and could be the lead spinner for India before too long with Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav perhaps on the decline.
Hardik Pandya the all-rounder needs to bounce back
There is no doubt that Hardik Pandya is one of the most crucial players for India in white-ball cricket currently. A seaming all-rounder, Hardik is a power-hitter who can score crucial runs in the death overs. Though he is yet to reach full fitness that has put his bowling on the backburner, his athleticism and his fearlessness make him indispensable. However, he has been struggling with the bat of late, scoring just 205 runs in white-ball cricket at an average of 25.62 this year. He was far from his best in the IPL as well, scoring 52 runs in seven games at a strike-rate of 118.18.
With Pandya not delivering his full quota of overs with the ball due to his back injury, India desperately need him to fire with the bat. A few more failures might even see him out of the XI due to the stiff competition around.
Is it the end of the road for Manish Pandey?
Manish Pandey has not scored an ODI fifty since August 2017. In 14 innings thereafter, Pandey has a high score of 42, with 255 runs at an average of 23.18 and a strike-rate of 81.73. Even in the IPL, the Sunrisers Hyderabad veteran has failed to get going, scoring at a rate of 127.62 last year, which fell to 123.71 in 2021. Pandey had a golden opportunity to stake a claim in the Indian side during the series against Sri Lanka, but with just 74 runs in three innings — the lowest by any Indian batsman who played all three games — it can be said that a return to the squad once the big stars return looks bleak.
A successful reunion for KulCha, but will they be persisted with?
It was deemed by some as the final chance for Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who have seen a slump in their form after a successful start to their career. Kuldeep managed to pick up only five ODI wickets last year at an average of 54, and had been dropped from the XI of his IPL team as well. Chahal averaged 37.85 last year in ODIs, and was dropped from the last few T20Is against England in February, which meant that the white-ball series in Sri Lanka was expected to be their litmus test.
The duo managed to put up an inspired show against Sri Lanka. While Kuldeep extracted more turn than anyone else in the first ODI, Chahal picked up five wickets in two games to remind everyone of his quality.
But the performance from young Rahul Chahar might mean that the Indians stick with him as the first-choice spinner in their upcoming games, and it would need a more dominant performance from higher-ranked rivals for KulCha to stage a comeback.
Prithvi Shaw impresses but he has to carry on
Prithvi Shaw has worked hard on his game after the technical flaws that enveloped him during the Tests in Australia. A clinical performance in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, where he ended with 827 runs, was followed by a cracking IPL for Delhi Capitals. Opening the batting, Shaw scored 308 runs in eight games this year at a strike-rate of 166.48 with the help of three fifties.
The youngster carried forward his form in the ODI against Sri Lanka as well, and helped India clinch the first game with a blazing 43 in just 24 balls. He followed it up with a run-a-ball 49 in the third ODI, but it is imperative that he converts his starts into big scores. With a number of candidates in the fray for the opener’s slot, Shaw will need to ensure he brings consistency into his game, which might decide the fate of his career.
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