India’s limited-over squad is in Sri Lanka for a series of three ODIs and as many T20Is. The visitors won the first two ODIs to clinch the three-match series, but lost the third one, where India made a wholesale changes. It surprised former India batsman VVS Laxman.
India’s Test squad led by Virat Kohli is currently touring England.
“I am not saying this with the benefit of hindsight or because of the result (India lost the third ODI), but I was a little surprised by the number of changes made to the Indian XI for the final ODI,” Laxman wrote in his column for The Times of India on Sunday.
“Agreed, there is loads of talent within the squad and many of the debutants caught the eye, but I’d have loved a little more constancy, especially in the bowling department.”
The limited-overs tour is being called an ‘audition’ for the vacant spots for the T20 World Cup later this year in the UAE.
Sanju Samson, Nitish Rana, Chetan Sakariya, K Gowtham and Rahul Chahar made their debuts in the rain-hit third ODI, which Sri Lanka won by three wickets (DLS method).
“Someone like Bhuvneshwar Kumar needs overs under his belt to hit peak rhythm, as was obvious in the first two games. He would have been better off with another 8-9 overs leading up to the T20I series, which assumes greater significance because it is India’s last outing in this format before the World Cup later in the year,” Laxman wrote.
The former Test specialist also felt that spin twins Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav should be given a long rope.
“I also believe Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav should have played the last game (third ODI) and extended their good run, because penetrative spin in the middle overs has been a bit of a problem in white-ball cricket for a little while,” felt Laxman.
Among the debutants in the third ODI, Chetan Sakariya and Rahul Chahar impressed Laxman.
“Having said that, I was impressed with the composure Chetan Sakariya showed on debut, and how beautifully Rahul Chahar bowled, particularly in his last spell,” said Laxman. “The leggie and Varun Chakravarthy must get a go in all three T20Is, if only to provide Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri with greater options ahead of the T20 World Cup.”
“Prithvi Shaw again batted with authority, and it didn’t feel as if Sanju Samson was on debut as he too got on top of the bowling. However, both threw it away when well set – not for the first time in Shaw’s case – and India further lost the initiative after the rain break,” Laxman added.
Laxman felt there was a need for Rahul Dravid, India’s coach on the tour, to have a word with the youngsters and stress on the importance of making starts count. Shaw (49), Samson (46) and Suryakumar Yadav (40) all fell after getting their eye in during the third ODI.
“I am sure Rahul Dravid will sit the boys down and impress upon them how imperative it is to convert starts into big scores, given that there is massive competition for places. Attractive 30s and 40s don’t help the team’s cause; it is notable that apart from Shikhar Dhawan in the first game, no Indian batsman touched 60 at any stage,” Laxman analysed.
“Sri Lanka deserved the victory, though their nerves were apparent the closer they got to the target. They will go into the T20s with their morale high, but I am confident India will take the three-wicket loss in their stride.”
The first T20I will be played later today (July 25).