Team India full of passengers

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 23, 2014 12:58 hrs

Rohit Sharma made his debut way back in 2007 and in those seven years, these are his ODI batting averages on the soils of the following countries: England (9), South Africa (17.7), New Zealand (23), Australia (24) and Sri Lanka (27.7). He does show some decent form in West Indies, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, but that’s about it.

It took him a good six years to hit a purple patch on home soil and it is anybody’s guess how many more years it will take for him to finally start firing on foreign soil.

Suresh Raina has never been a great overseas player and has always been suspect against the short ball.

He has always performed well on home. But off late even that is changing. Forget scoring a century, he hasn’t even hit a half-century against a Top 8 team in his last 20 outings.

His last ODI century against any team came way back in 2010. Since the ICC Champions Trophy, he averages a mere 26 and after 188 ODIs it is unlikely that his technique is going to change much any time soon.

In the last 5 matches, Ravichandran Ashwin has just one wicket. While he may be a safe bet on home soil, he is yet to come good overseas. Though he is a batting all-rounder, he is yet to score a 50 in ODIs in 72 matches.

The case of Ishant Sharma is even more curious. While he is definitely picking up ODI wickets from time to time (unlike in Tests where he goes for long stretches without picking up many wickets), he is forever leaking runs.

Here are his series bowling economy rates for the last 5 series: ICC Champions Trophy (5.73), West Indies tour Tri-series (5.7), Australia series (7.87), South Africa series (4.58) and in the current New Zealand series: 7.86.

Basically this means that if Ishant bowled 50 overs then teams would be always scoring in the range of Australia and New Zealand would be scoring close to 400 runs.
Ishant’s career economy rate in the team (5.72) is also the worst of the team.

Here are the career economy rates of the others: Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4.61), Amit Mishra (4.66), Sir Ravindra Jadeja (4.76) and Ashwin (4.95). Even though Mohammed Shami and Varun Aaron have played far too less matches for their rates to settle, they are still better than Ishant.

Interestingly even part-timer Raina, who has 25 ODI wickets, has picked them at a career economy rate of 5.05.

While Ishant seems over the hill, the case of Raina is even more curious for the fact that someone as talented as Cheteshwar Pujara is not even in the squad, let alone the team! That has got to be the most mystifying decisions made by the BCCI in recent times.

Pujara looks like the kind of player who will do well in ODIs and since he has runs under his belt in Tests on South African soil, it is a safe bet to say that he has a greater chance of performing better on foreign soil than most of the current lot.

Finally is the curious case of captain MS Dhoni. Statistically, Dhoni is the most successful Indian captain ever. However off late as a captain he is coming unstuck on foreign soil.

After the debacle of 0-7 (Virender Sehwag was captain in one match) on England and Australia soils, we also lost in South Africa even though we were at a commanding position at many times on the series.

But what’s more worrying is that the same seems to be happening on foreign overseas ODI series too. Dhoni has lost his last ODI bilateral series that he has played in England, Australia and South Africa.

While we got thrashed in South Africa, New Zealand was blanked 0-3 by Bangladesh just a few months back. Even a weak team like West Indies like held them to a 2-2 series draw on New Zealand soil.

If we lose against New Zealand then it will be a major loss of face and the odds will become even greater of winning in England which is a crucial tour coming up ahead.

Is it time for Virat Kohli to take over as captain in ODIs?

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.