India wrapped up a 3-1 series win over the West Indies as a Kohli hundred set up an eight wicket win in the final ODI at Kingston. The visitors were the strong favourites heading into the tour, with the men in blue being runners up in the recent Champions Trophy, while the West Indies failed to even qualify for the ICC event. Indeed, India seemed to be the superior side on the whole, except for when an inspired bowling performance from the West Indies in the fourth ODI gave them a late scare. It was an intriguing series which has thrown up several questions that need to be answered, particularly with respect to the composition of India’s ODI side.
Should Rahane and Dhawan continue to open for India?
The dilemma of who should open for India is not a new problem. They had the most successful opening partnership in the Champions Trophy, as Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma were the two leading run scorers in the tournament, averaging 67 and 76 respectively. However, India decided to rest Rohit Sharma for the tour of the West Indies meaning that Ajinkya Rahane would be India’s first choice opener. Rahane was part of India’s Champions Trophy squad but did not feature in any of the matches, despite being in good form. Thus, he took this series as a good chance to stake a claim for the openers spot again. He had an incredible series and was awarded ‘Player of the Series’, as he scored well over 300 runs in just four matches. Moreover, he looked to be the ideal partner for Dhawan as they hit a record breaking 14th century partnership together.
Statistically the Dhawan-Rahane opening partnership is the most successful, but it would be a very bold call to drop the explosive Rohit Sharma. One possible option India may consider employing is to open with Rohit and shift Rahane down into the middle order. In order to do this, though, one of India’s middle order batsmen needs to be dropped. This begs the following question.
Is time for MS Dhoni to retire?
With an average of 79 is his last five matches, one wouldn’t thing it would be necessary for MS Dhoni to retire, but many fans think differently. The former captain came under heavy criticism for failing to take India over the line in the fourth ODI, as they fell an agonising 11 runs short of the West Indies total of 189. In that contest Dhoni scored an exceptionally slow 54 off 114 balls. He looked scratchy at the crease and failed to time the ball well and just ended up using up deliveries. Moreover, he only managed to hit just one four and ended up going at a strike rate of under fifty. Dhoni has earned a reputation for being one of the best finishers in world cricket, but has failed to live up to this billing recently. This game went down as another game that Dhoni has failed to close out recently.
Now that he is no longer captaining India’s ODI side, Dhoni has to earn his place in this side purely on his ability as a batsman. As soon as he is no longer capable of batting to his full potential, it may be time for him to step aside. There are several young candidates who could replace Dhoni as a keeper and middle order batsman, namely Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant. There have been some rumours that have suggested Dhoni may want to play on until the 2019 World Cup, but it is more than likely that he will step aside before then.
Does Kudleep Yadav’s success mean the end for Ashwin?
Left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav was handed his ODI debut in the second match of the series (he was included in the team for the first match that was abandoned due to rain). Yadav made an instant impact in that game as he picked up three wickets and displayed great control and composure. He continued this form throughout the rest of the series, and he ended up claiming eight wickets overall – the joint highest alongside Jason Holder. With a series economy of just over 4, Yadav has more than established himself on the international stage. He partnered Jadeja well, who bowled a notably economical spell in the final match of 10-1-27-0.
Kuldeep Yadav’s excellent efforts have come at an unfortunate time for Ravichandran Ashwin. While the off-spinner enjoyed a fruitful Test season, his limited overs cricket has been mediocre for a while now. Ashwin struggled in the Champions Trophy, conceding over 70 runs in the final, and has not looked comfortable outside of the subcontinent recently. On current form and pure merit, most selectors would now choose to have Yadav’s bowling ahead of Ashwin’s. In addition to this, Ashwin has failed to justify his label as an all-rounder in limited overs cricket recently, as he hasn’t made any significant runs for years. This dominant performance from the young Yadav could signal the end of Ashwin’s stint in India’s ODI side.