Recent ODI series against SA shows India's backup players' intent to make every opportunity count
Team India won three-match ODI series 2-1 at home against South Africa showed India's backup players' intent to make every opportunity count.
Team India recently won a three-match ODI series 2-1 at home against South Africa playing with a squad which featured a mix of proven performers at the international level and also in the domestic circuit & Indian Premier League (IPL). The show put on by some of the young guns of the Indian team led by Shikhar Dhawan was great to see and is praiseworthy.
After losing the first game of the series by a close margin of 9 runs, India bounced back in style beating a full-strength Proteas team in dominating fashion in the last two fixtures. This shows the never say die attitude of the Indian team and the immense talent of the bench & fringe players. The fightback shown by this team in the recently concluded ODI series raises hopes and augurs well for the team in coming years.
It must be stated that this series is not the first time the same set of players have done well in the ODI format. One has seen them beat West Indies and Zimbabwe in their own backyard under the leadership of veteran Shikhar Dhawan and also in Sri Lanka last year in the ODI series.
The next generation of Indian players are more than capable of stepping up on the big stage even in the absence of senior players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.
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Here are some of the standout young players for India in the recently concluded ODI series against South Africa.
India's Middle order batters
Shreyas Iyer & Sanju Samson
India had the problem of dearth of experience in their batting order going into this series, as most of their main batters had already departed for Australia to prepare for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 by the time this ODI series kicked off. In fact, apart from Shikhar Dhawan, no other batter in the top seven who featured in this series had played over 35 ODI games for India.
So, the responsibility of shouldering the middle order rested on the trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer and Sanju Samson. While Dhawan, the skipper had an ordinary outing in the series, the other two right-handers stepped up when it was required. Iyer has been around for some time and Samson is relatively new to the ODI setup, but both have a plethora of experience having captained their respective franchises in IPL.
Shreyas struck an unbeaten match-winning century (113*) in the 2nd ODI in Ranchi, and Sanju almost single-handedly pulled off a sensational win for India in the 1st ODI in Lucknow where he slammed a scintillating 86*. The duo’s performance gives a glimpse of what is in store for India’s middle order in the coming years.
But is it possible to accommodate both players in the first XI of the Indian team when all the seniors return? It seems difficult now as Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant along with KL Rahul are almost irreplaceable. Also, Shreyas and Sanju are similar sort of players who love to play their strokes at any point of the innings. So, at least for the foreseeable future, one of these talented batters may have to sit out when it comes to ODI cricket, and if it comes to that then it could be Sanju Samson who might be left out because Shreyas Iyer is slowly becoming indispensable for India as far as ODI cricket is concerned.
Shreyas Iyer since 2020 for India in white ball cricket
Though Shreyas is ahead of Sanju in the pecking order, the latter has done nothing wrong in his short international career. Despite a lacklustre start to his T20I career where he got opportunities sporadically, in ODI format he has shown great promise thus far. Also, Samson played at number 5 which is unusual for him, but he succeeded which clearly speaks for his adaptability to any given situation.
Sanju Samson in ODI cricket