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Have India dug their own grave by over-using the experimentation policy?

Sportskeeda logo Sportskeeda 4 days ago

a group of baseball players standing on top of a field: Virat Kohli and Co. © Getty Virat Kohli and Co.

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Back in 2017, when Virat Kohli was handed over the captaincy, he straight away indulged himself into 'Mission 2019'. The whole team which MS Dhoni had prepared was cohesively held together by Kohli, and he extracted a strong core out of it.

Kohli's team had a successful campaign at the 2017 Champions Trophy. Of course they couldn't win it, but they did well to reach the final.

After that they played plenty of limited overs cricket and did exceptionally well in the particular format. Be it home series or away series, they won almost all of them, and emerged as the favorites to win the World Cup 2019.

Apart from that England series, India had all of the others in their bag; everything seemed to be turning in India's favor. But as it is rightly said, a unit is never self-sufficient and that is precisely what made India commit a few mistakes.

Since 2017, the team management has been playing a game of musical chairs over the No. 4 spot. They have not stuck to any one option with the hope of and nurturing the player for the big tournament; instead, they have chopped and changed at will.

Yuvraj Singh did well for a brief period, but he was dropped due to some fitness parameters. Then Ajinkya Rahane also did well to some extent but the team wanted someone more attacking in that position. Even Dinesh Karthik did reasonably well but they failed to persist with him either.

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(Provided by IANS)

When time seemed to be running out, they tried Ambati Rayudu and even stuck with him. But Rayudu wasn't a reliable batsman.

Now with their next game straight away at the World Cup, India have still not got a solution.

After the England series, India adopted an unusual strategy of resting one player after another. In the Asia Cup Kohli was rested, then against West Indies Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Kohli again were rested.

Against Australia in Australia, Bumrah was given a break, and on the tour of New Zealand Kohli was again rested along with Bumrah.

When Australia came to India, Bhuvneshwar was rested for the first two games and then Dhoni was rested for the last two.

This whole resting and experimenting policy has prevented India from letting its core 11 players play altogether. In order to look for the right combinations in the team and to tick all the boxes including the bench strength, the selectors haven't allowed their core unit, who will be featuring in the World Cup, to collaborate together.

This whole strategy has also cost them the series against Australia, which could deflate the confidence they had got by playing some good cricket the previous two years. There was no point in resting too many players simultaneously, and especially not Dhoni - who himself needs more game time.

What has happened has happened, and nothing can undo it. With no games left in their bag but still two months' time left, India have to find a solution to the issues before them, especially the No. 4 slot whose baton should ideally be passed to some experienced and trustworthy cricketer.

India are still the favorites to win the World Cup, and just one bad series cannot take away all the feats they have achieved. But they would do well to address their concerns in quick time, before it is too late.

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