India’s best ODI eleven for the tour of Australia would ideally require one to look outside the squad named by BCCI. Since that’s not feasible, we try to identify the best XI from the squad available at hand.
India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (vice-captain & wicket-keeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, Sanju Samson (wicket-keeper).
Despite Rohit Sharma’s absence, India have four to five top-order batsmen at their disposal, who could get the job done as efficiently. While Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill and Sanju Samson are all openers or top-order batsmen, KL Rahul offers the option of playing in the middle-order as well, as was the case earlier this year.
Amongst the most in-from of openers, India have Mayank Agarwal, Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan, which was evident in the recently-concluded Indian T20 League season. While Shubman Gill and Samson also had decent seasons, it is ideal that India use Mayank and Dhawan at the top with Rahul in the middle-order.
They should also shuffle Dhawan and Mayank for Gill and Samson at some point in the series to experiment with the options in hand.
Though Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul’s names are now set in stone for the third, fourth and fifth batting position respectively, India have run-scoring options down the order as well. If Hardik Pandya isn’t playing as an all-rounder, he could very well replace Manish Pandey at No. 6, which is the only way he can squeeze into the side as a batsman.
While Manish Pandey has had reasonable success in Australia in the past, which includes an impressive century during a run-chase, Pandya is evidently a better finisher. Though the Mumbai star hasn't had too many chances with the bat, he has shown his calibre with some gritty cameos here and there - most notably in the Champions Trophy final in 2017.
India have very few bowlers who can bat and this seals Ravindra Jadeja's position in the side at No.7. Yuzvendra Chahal is likely to be the other spinner in the side, edging out an out-of-form Kuldeep Yadav.
There are just four pace bowlers in the side and three of them should squeeze into the XI. While Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami’s selection are no-brainers, the selectors would have a tough time choosing between Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini.
Saini adds a hit-the-deck option on the quick Aussie wickets and should ideally be picked ahead of Thakur. However, Thakur found success in New Zealand earlier this year and will also be handy if there's early movement on offer. He also adds a good batting depth as was evident he showed in the past couple of series.
India XI: Mayank Agarwal, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami
Feature Image courtesy: AFP/ MICHAEL BRADLEY