India faces difficult decisions against New Zealand due to the Kishan conundrum, Kuldeep vs. Chahal, and Malik’s ascent

Jan 19, 2023

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INDIA’S preparation for the ODI World Cup will begin with a three-match series against New Zealand, who are presently ranked first in the ICC rankings, after only a two-day respite following their record-breaking thrashing of Sri Lanka. However, with KL Rahul and Axar Patel out, India will need to adjust their lineup and make some potentially difficult choices before the first ODI on Wednesday in Hyderabad.

Ishan Kishan has emerged as the favorite to keep wicket for both the ODI and the T20I series against New Zealand as Rahul will be absent due to family obligations while Rishabh Pant is still recovering from a horrific vehicle accident. In 50-over cricket, it’s still unclear if he can immediately replace himself as the opener.

Kishan was benched for the Sri Lanka series despite smashing a 126-ball double-century last month, the fastest ever in ODI cricket. Instead, Shubman Gill received the start. In three innings, Gill amassed two fifty-plus runs and began to solidify his position as India’s all-format player. Gill might be left off the starting lineup, though, if India decides to insert Suryakumar Yadav in the middle order in place of Rahul and wants Kishan to retry the top with skipper Rohit Sharma.

In this ODI World Cup year, the matchup has always been between Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav because India is very guaranteed to deploy at least one finger spin-bowling allrounder. Kuldeep might undoubtedly start the New Zealand series if Chahal still hasn’t recovered enough from the shoulder issue that kept him out of the past two ODIs against Sri Lanka.

India will have to choose between the two wrist spinners, though, if Chahal is able to play again. Chahal’s experience and slow leg breaks are still valuable, especially at home, even though he has given up runs in his most recent few ODI appearances. Kuldeep has also argued his position, bridging the distance between Chahal and himself by giving his actions more vigor, allowing him to get a bit more drift and a little more turn. It may be difficult to ignore the fact that he has won two Player-of-the-Match honours in his last three international matches.

Washington Sundar, an off spin bowling all-rounder, may be in line for a sustained performance in the ODIs and T20Is against New Zealand as Ravindra Jadeja continues to recover from an injury and Axar takes a sabbatical for family obligations.

Shahbaz Ahmed of Bengal, a left-arm finger spinner, has been added to the ODI team as Axar’s like-for-like substitute, but Washington’s offspin might be matched up with New Zealand’s left-hander-heavy lineup, which may contain all of Devon Conway, Mark Chapman, Tom Latham, Michael Bracewell, and Mitchell Santner.

Washington’s opportunity to end the curse comes after missing at least two World Cups due to injury since making his international debut in 2017. He has focused on improving his power-hitting since IPL 2022 and broadening his repertoire of strokes, some of which were on display during his cameos in New Zealand late last year.

To become more comfortable finishing the innings, Washington slid down the order for his state team Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy. He began his career as a top-order batter and is currently working to redefine himself as a finisher and a spinner.

Shardul Thakur, who was not selected for the ODI series against Sri Lanka, is back in the mix as left-arm seamer Arshdeep Singh is no longer part of the team. Thakur receives another shot as a seam bowler who can also provide batting depth because Bhuvneshwar is no longer on India’s radar and Deepak Chahar is still unwell. Thakur can bowl with the new ball, as he did on the Bangladesh trip, despite not being a true swing bowler like Chahar.

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