India have made no changes to their squad of 15 for the remaining two ODIs against England to be hold in the cold climes of Mohali and Dharamsala.
After a poor start to the five-game series in Rajkot, India have crushed England in the next two games in Kochi and Ranchi. While the bowling unit has got its act together, India’s batting remains a concern.
Ajinkya Rahane, who had come in for the out-of-favour Virender Sehwag, has put in some underwhelming performances in the blue jersey.
His much-demanded return to the Indian squad has seen a string of small scores: 19, 3, 42 and 28 in the four T20s against Pakistan and England, and 4, 47, 4 and 0 in the following ODIs.
Also on display is a visible technical deficiency – his tendency to play away from the body – that England’s Steven Finn in particular has exploited in the last two games.
The rope that his opening partner Gautam Gambhir has got continues to get longer. Since England’s arrival in India in November, Gambhir’s scores in Tests, ODIs and T20s have been 45, 4, 65, 60, 40, 37, 16, 17, 43, 21, 8, 11, 15, 52, 8 and 33. They’re indicative of numerous good starts thrown away, questioning Gambhir’s waning skills and mental toughness that had once set him apart.
It also begs the question why the in-form Cheteshwar Pujara hasn’t been given a game after being plucked out of the Saurashtra squad.
As Pujara warms the Indian bench, Saurashtra are on the verge of entering the Ranji Trophy semifinal. It must be tearing the young batsman apart for being out of action when he could have been helping his side make a serious dash for the title.
With both openers struggling for runs, India need solidity at the start of the innings. In the absence of other options, it could be worthwhile asking Pujara to open. Surely, he would do no worse than Rahane or Gambhir.
Squad: MS Dhoni (C/WK), Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Shami Ahmed.