India registered a comfortable victory in the 1st ODI against Sri Lanka and the scales seem to be tipped heavily in favour of the visitors for the rest of the series. The hosts must change something fast and play out of their skins to make it harder for the Indians who have found it way too easy thus far.
Routine victories for India, however, have raised questions about whether they are doing enough to test their bench strength or experiment more in this series. For some argue that there will not be a better opportunity for India given how easily they are winning now.
Here are 5 reasons why India should experiment in this ODI series against Sri Lanka.
#5 Sri Lanka are a weak opposition
Ever since the whitewash in the Test series and the victory by the significant margin in the first ODI, experts have unanimously pointed out the huge difference between the two teams.
Truth be told, the glorious past of Sri Lankan cricket is long behind them and the retirement of their two modern-day legends in Sangakkara and Jayawardene has left gaping holes in the dressing room. This Lankan team, which is in transition, is short on confidence.
With tougher tours coming up, India will not get a better opportunity to experiment. They should take advantage of Sri Lanka’s weaknesses to try out a few new things.
#4 Squad-building for 2019
With a couple of years to go, all teams now are building a squad keeping in mind the 2019 World Cup. If the Indians want to try out new combinations or a couple of new things, now is the time to brainstorm and get the ideas right.
India do have a lot of youngsters who can be tried out keeping in mind the bigger picture. The likes of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina have been dropped for the series, while Dhoni, who would be over 38 in 2019, still has some major question marks over his consistency.
Trying out youngsters will help the team to groom them as replacements for the aforementioned stalwarts.
#3 Managing the workload
Experimentation and rotation will also help some of the senior players to manage their workload a bit. The likes of Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya now play for India in all three formats of the game.
While the rotation policy which has given much needed breaks to Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja needs to be lauded, the likes of Virat Kohli need to be managed more shrewdly as he is too valuable a player to lose for India.
The pressure on Kohli has been incessant as he has been playing non-stop cricket over the last year and a half — India lost Rohit Sharma to a long-term injury last year and it was not a pleasant proposition. Rotation will thus allow the senior players to rest and help try out some of the youngsters in their places.
#2 Trying out the bench strength
Experimentation will also allow India to test its bench strength which is going to be vital for India going forward. Players on the bench deserve to get some game-time as they might otherwise get demoralised. This will also help the team in case of injuries or for squad-building in the long run.
Though the Indian openers have done well, it would be also good to give Ajinkya Rahane to give some opportunities as he has always done well whenever he has been given chances. This will also allow the team to rest Shikhar Dhawan who has been playing a lot of cricket in all three formats.
Manish Pandey is being looked at as the next best finisher in limited overs cricket and he deserves a few chances. In the bowling department, Kuldeep Yadav might go on to become a long-term prospect for India and so he deserves to play more. Shardul Thakur also deserves to make his debut by now.
#1 To try out new batting positions
Though the Indian batting is really strong at the moment, some question marks remain about the batting order. Rahane for instance is too good a player to be sitting out but there is no place for him at the top if Dhawan and Rohit open. So, can he be tried once again as a middle order batsman after a good West Indies tour?
Dhoni has expressed his desire time and again to bat higher up the order. Is it possible to try Dhoni at no. 4 and then have Manish Pandey to follow after him? How can India accommodate the trio of Pandey, Kedar Jadhav and KL Rahul in the team?
Also, is it possible to play Hardik Pandya as a floater and allow him to go higher up the order at times? These questions have no concrete answers at the moment. But chopping and changing along with experimentation might produce the best results to settle these conundrums.