India have put in professional performances in the first 2 ODIs and as a result, are now up 2-0. The heartening aspect of these wins was that both were achieved on the back of some stellar performances by our youngsters. In the first match, Rohit and Jadeja had the match-winning partnership that stabilized the sinking ship during the chase and though they could not complete the win, the young fast bowler duo of Aaron and Yadav held their nerve to seal the win. In the second ODI, the win was achieved due to the mammoth partnership between Virat and Rohit and this time, Rohit ensured that he completed the job. The bowlers have also stuck to their task for the most part, except for a while during the second ODI when the let Ravi Rampaul lead the WI innings to a respectable score from the horrible position they were in after the loss of their 9th wicket.
Ashwin had a bad game in the second ODI, as did Aaron, but it was nice that India still won and now that they have had their bad game out of the way, hopefully they will perform well in the remaining matches. In fact, I would even be tempted to rest Ashwin and give Rahul Sharma a chance in the third ODI or at the latest, in the 4th and 5th matches. This is not to punish Ashwin for his bad performance, but now that we have seen that we can win even with Ashwin contributing very little, it would be nice to give him a rest before the tough Australia tour. He is one of only 3 players who have played all the test matches as well and he has performed with both bat and ball unlike the other 2 (Sehwag and Gambhir), so he must be more tired than the others.
I was watching the partnership between Virat and Rohit in the second ODI and it was nice to see that there was no panic even though the target was stiff and India had lost 3 wickets early. These youngsters are so confident of their abilities and go about their job with so little fuss, it is almost as if they are born to do just this. Virat has established himself in the ODI lineup as a batsmen who can bat long as well as score at a very decent pace. I think he is going to be the fulcrum of the middle order in the future and I really wish he can translate his amazing talent and poise to the test arena as well. Rohit has also made a name for himself as a special talent and it is nice to see him perform consistently for India over the past 2 ODIs and take his average from the low 31s to 34+ in the last 2 games. Like I said in the previous post, there will be slots opening up in the middle order in tests over the next year or so, and if these 2 can perform true to potential for the remaining 3 ODIs and in Australia, it may even hasten the retirement of the big 3 from the test match setup, knowing that Team India will be in safe hands in the future.
Jadeja continues to show how a proper number 7 who does his job in the line up brings so much more to the team than someone like Yusuf Pathan who is a wild card. With the re-emergence of Jadeja, India looks stronger in all departments. Jadeja illustrated his importance perfectly in the first ODI where WI might have relaxed slightly when they had India at 59 for 5 in the chase of 211, but he batted superbly with Rohit and got India close enough that the number 10 and 11 were able to complete the job. While on that, I was as confused as everyone else, why Varun Aaron refused that single to deep fine leg off Umesh Yadav's bat. It seems that the pressure got to him and eroded his ability to stay calm and think logically. But if he had more confidence in his batting, he got it right when he hit that important four a little later and then Yadav finished it off with a nice stroke made with a straight bat. In fact, I was watching both Aaron and Yadav bat and they dont look like typical number 10 and 11, they appear to be better than pure tail-enders, which augurs well for Indian cricket in the future.
I also cannot help but feel sad for this WI team. They seem to be doing a lot of things right in this Indian tour, but they have no results to show for all the hard work and fight they are giving, especially in the last 3 games. What they seem to lack is the application and focus to do the right things for an extended period of time. Also I believe that their captain Darren Sammy is more of a liability than an asset. He has not contributed much with bat or ball, and his captaincy skills are quite ordinary. I think they need to find a more aggressive captain who can help maintain pressure on the opposition with his field placings and bowling changes.
For the next 3 ODIs, I would definitely like to see Rahul Sharma get a game or two. Also maybe if India win the series in the next game, they should look to rest Sehwag or Gautam Gambhir and give Manoj Tiwary a chance. If u are not going to test ur bench strength against teams like the WI and after you have won the series, when are u going to do it ? Sehwag and Gambhir have a long tour of Australia ahead of them and I am sure, could use some rest before that.
I will post my next update after the 5 ODIs are completed. Stay tuned.