The one-day series against Zimbabwe is already in the bag for India with two games in hand, which means there will be no embarrassment for the Indians this time round. Having said that, the Indians shouldn’t relax now. As mentioned by this writer in an earlier piece, they must go all out to thrash Zimbabwe 5-0 to put back the poor memories of their past visits. While doing that though they must also ensure that each and every member of the squad gets a game in before the series gets over.
One of the prime objectives behind the present series for the Indians must be to give rookies a feel of international cricket, if only briefly. Further, a few other players, who have been on the international scene for a while not, but having been able to establish themselves are also being given a second chance. Of all the fringe players, who have been given an opportunity in this low-key series, legspinner Amit Mishra has been most impressive. He is the highest wicket-taker in the series till date, with his variations and googly, in particular, being impossible for the Zimbabweans to pick.
Among the others, Ambati Rayudu made a much delayed international debut, but the good part was that it was an impressive one as he notched up a half-century. Dinesh Karthik has managed one much-needed half-century to keep his international career alive. Shifting focus back to the bowlers, left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat has been impressive with his line and length, and has been rewarded with a few wickets. Mohammad Shami has kept things tight for most of his spells. If anything, it is the comeback man and more experienced of the pace bowlers, R. Vinay Kumar, who has been disappointing, bowling wayward spells.
Even with the abovementioned positives, there is still something more to gain for the Indians from the remaining two matches. Four members of the squad are yet to get a look in, and the Indian think-tank must ensure that they get a chance even while looking to clinch the series 5-0. All-rounder Parvez Rasool has made a striking impression on the domestic circuit and even succeeded with the ball against the visiting Australians during the latter’s visit to India. Rasool has the talent to excel with both and ball, but for that he must be given a chance to prove his worth.
The challenge for Cheteshwar Pujara is of a different kind. He has already established himself as India’s number three in Tests, but is yet to make his ODI debut. Pujara is confident he can do well in one-dayers as well, and given his ability there is no reason why he shouldn’t. Mumbai Ajinkya Rahane hasn’t made the good use of the opportunities that have come his way so far. He must ensure things are different if he gets a chance this time. Finally, medium pacer Mohit Sharma should also be given a platform to demonstrate that his IPL success was no fluke.
--By A Cricket Analyst