“It seems like India are struggling to control the flow of the game without Bumrah in the side and with the trend repeating in Australia, a few changes in personnel are in the offing”

India went into the first two ODIs against Australia with just five bowlers and on both occasions, at least two bowlers went over six runs an over. They tried to stymie the run flow with Ambati Rayudu’s gentle off-breaks, but after his action was declared suspect, they had to use all 10 overs from all of their five bowlers.

With no Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav looking a tad ineffective, India have struggled to control the middle and death overs where Australian batsmen have consistently found ways of scoring. Jadeja and Kuldeep have been solid, but Australia have blunt them with their dancing shoes and astute placement and anything loose from the death bowlers have been punished.

What has resulted is that the hosts have made over 285 in both the ODIs, setting India stiff targets and even without their premier fast bowlers, they nearly bowled over India’s strong batting twice. They were helped by a Kohli special and a composed Dhoni at Adelaide but it could have gone so wrong for India after Kohli was dismissed.

The targets have been stiff and the primary reason is that they miss Bumrah’s accuracy, wicket-taking ability and astuteness. In the home series against the Windies, without Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar at the beginning, the visitors made over 300 twice and although the batting saved them grace, West Indies tied one game and lost another. Even with Bumrah’s return – when he picked 4/35 – West Indies played the other bowlers smartly and notched up 283, eventually a match-winning score.

They lost the series, but that India were forced to recall Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah after the first two ODIs showed West Indies had been doing well.

“Yeah, I would like to think so (on Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar being forced to come back after West Indies batsmen did well). That’s probably the reason why they’ve (India) called back their two most experienced one-day bowlers. To our credit, we haven’t shied away from it,” Law said then.

It seems like India are struggling to control the flow of the game without Bumrah in the side and with the trend repeating in Australia, a few changes in personnel are in the offing. With their strike bowler out, India might want to focus on controlling the middle overs. Two men ideal to do that warm the bench at the moment and one of them could even be a game-changer for them down the order with the bat. Kedar Jadhav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

Both have similar traits as a bowler, although they come under different categories of bowlers. Their short stature means they bowl with low trajectories and both of them vary their pace pretty smartly. With the vastness of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, spinners could play a big rule and the duo’s low trajectory makes them difficult to be slogged out.

What has earned Chahal and Jadhav wickets is this very factor. They aren’t as easy to be slogged for six as they appear to be because gaining elevation on shots from their low trajectory is tough. Jadhav, in particular, with his slingy action varies his pace and befuddles batsmen with his angles. He is difficult to get away from and being a part-timer, he has the added advantage of batsmen looking to go after him.

Chahal is a natural wicket taker and can control the middle overs with his pace variations and quicker sliders. Alongside Kuldeep, he has formed a potential partnership, but with Hardik Pandya ruled out, India were kind of forced to play Jadeja as the all-rounder. It isn’t that Jadeja hasn’t done well, but India need a wicket taker alongside Kuldeep and Jadeja, although pretty tight with his stump to stump line, wasn’t all that effective in terms of snaffling wickets.

If Chahal replaces Jadeja, the tail would undoubtedly be too long. But let’s remember that Siraj in the second ODI and Khaleel in the first haven’t been too effective and could be replaced by someone like Vijay Shankar, who can don the all-round role or Kedar Jadhav himself who can step up and bowl a good few overs. But that would also mean keeping Dinesh Karthik out unless they want Jadhav in as the fifth bowler which is a risk.

Given the surface, conditions, how Australia have controlled middle overs and the size of the ground, India might definitely want to play both Chahal and Jadhav. For all you know, Kuldeep could find his rhythm with Chahal alongside him, and Jadhav could do as well as Jadeja and make a few handy runs too.

Possible XI: Rohit, Dhawan, Kohli, Rayudu, Dhoni, Karthik, Jadhav, Bhuvneshwar, Chahal, Shami, Kuldeep

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