India’s strategy of testing their bench strength in the first two ODIs against Australia has proven successful. However, as they prepare for the third ODI, the team management faces a challenging dilemma. Several first-choice stars who were rested in the initial matches, including Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, and Mohammed Siraj, will now be available for selection. This abundance of talent leaves the captain and coach with the tough task of selecting the best XI.
In the absence of these senior players, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Mohammed Shami, and Ravichandran Ashwin showcased their abilities. Iyer’s splendid century in the second ODI and Suryakumar’s back-to-back fifties were particularly noteworthy. With Kohli and Pandya set to return, the team management faces a selection conundrum. KL Rahul, who led the side in the first two ODIs, recognizes that the decision rests with captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid.
“As players, it’s not really our decision to make. It is the headache of the coach and Rohit when he comes back. Our jobs, roles are very clear. Everyone who gets picked in the XI has a job to do. Sitting out can be hard after scoring a lot of runs but everyone has been through that, and I think it will always be that way,” KL Rahul remarked during the post-match presentation.
Meanwhile, India’s batsmen displayed an impressive performance in the second ODI, with centuries from Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer, as well as fifties from Rahul and Suryakumar, propelling India to a formidable total of 399/5 in 50 overs. Rahul, who was initially considering bowling first, revealed that they didn’t anticipate much spin in the second half. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja combined to take six wickets, dismantling Australia for 217.
“When I saw the wicket earlier, I didn’t think it would spin that much. Putting 400 on the board gives you confidence,” KL Rahul added.
India did face some challenges in the field, dropping a few catches during the series. Rahul attributed this to the constant travel and playing in different stadiums, which can make it challenging for players to adjust to the lighting conditions.
“We have dropped a few catches, but when you are traveling every second day and playing at a different ground, getting used to the lights is a factor. A lot of guys have been playing for a long time. The coaches are doing their best to keep the guys fit. Sometimes these errors happen. The commitment is always there, we’ll learn from it, brush it off and get better in the next game,” he explained.
As for the potential return of senior players in the final ODI, Rahul revealed that nothing has been discussed officially. However, he expects the returning players to be eager to make an impact, especially with the World Cup just a couple of weeks away. Getting used to the challenges and returning to the field will be their primary focus.