India lost the first ODI against Australia at Sydney by 34 runs. In reply to Australia’s score of 288 for 5, India finished with 254 for 9 in 50 overs. Rohit Sharma’s magnificent 133 could not earn India a win as any of the other batsmen except M.S. Dhoni(51) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar(29) could make any meaningful contributions. The fourth highest scorer of the innings was extras.As a result, Australia won the first ODI by 34 runs and has taken a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series. In a related development, Shubman Gill and Vijay Shankar have been named as replacements for K.L. Rahul and Hardik Pandya. While Vijay Shankar will come in as an immediate replacement for Pandya, Gill will join the team in the New Zealand leg of the tour.
When one analyzes the reasons behind India’s poor show, three glaring reasons would come on top. The first reason was India’s inability to take wickets in the middle overs which enabled Australia to add 92, 53 & 68 runs for the third, fourth and fifth wickets respectively. In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah at the death, India conceded 93 runs in the last 10 overs which were the second reason for India’s defeat.
However, the most important reason for India’s defeat was the failure of the top order. In the chase, India was reduced to 4 for 3 in 4 overs and the game got over then and there despite the towering presence of Rohit Sharma till the 46th over.
The failure of the Indian top order on batting friendly conditions has brought us about to requiring additional batting arsenal in the form of Cheteshwar Pujara. This might sound weird but definitely an attractive option worth trying.
To lend support to this argument, the following valid reasons can be put forth:
# Pujara is in tremendous form of late. In the recently concluded Test series, Pujara finished with 521 runs in 7 innings at an average of 74. The Indian selectors should exploit Pujara’s good form to reap rich benefits to the team.# Pujara is the ideal player who is quite capable of steadying the ship if the team loses two quick wickets.# Pujara is a technically sound player who can be an asset to counter the bowler-friendly conditions in the World Cup in England. His county experience would come in handy in tackling the adverse batting conditions at the start of an innings in England. More so, with the World Cup scheduled to happen in the early part of English summer when the wickets are expected to be fresh and seamer-friendly.