India have got off to a terrific start in the ongoing Asia Cup 2018 after winning both their Pool A matches and qualifying for the Super Four.
The Rohit Sharma-led side will now have a fresh battle ready for them as they are all set to face Bangladesh and Afghanistan, besides facing Pakistan once again. What has been a rollicking affair for the Indian side, two players have seemed to come off their blocks.
Comeback men Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav have taken their chances wholly so far and it gives them a platform to build on their future India endeavours. If Ambati has carried on his IPL 2018 form into the Asia Cup, Jadhav has determined his all-round skills.
The Indian middle-order no doubt has been bolstered by the return of two senior players, who have fared well in the chances they have got in their career. With a big tournament like the ICC World Cup 2019 coming up next year in England, the mission for these two will be to make sure that they keep themselves in fray for selection.
Both have calm heads and will not want to get carried away yet, knowing its a long road ahead to keep their places intact in this Indian squad. The players were superb against arch-rivals Pakistan on Wednesday and will be hoping to carry on the same vein in the rest of the tournament.
Rayudu a real deal as a finisher
What Rayudu gave the fans in the IPL 2018 was his versatility as a batsman. The player can bat in many positions and never shies away from his responsibility. In the ongoing Asia Cup as well, Rayudu showed his brilliance in both matches with the bat.
Perhaps the writing is on the wall for him in the manner in which he sets about while taking the field. A 60-run knock against a spirited Hong Kong gave him the perfect start he would have desired in his new chapter. He built his innings perfectly and shared a long stand with centurion Shikhar Dhawan. And then came the calm and composed finishing role against Pakistan.
Rayudu batted like he had all the time in the world and made sure he was there till the end in this low-score chase. Another 50+ partnership with Dinesh Karthik was a bright moment. A busy player, Rayudu is a real deal as far playing a substantial long innings is concerned.
Fitness issues are behind Rayudu
Rayudu was handed a call-up to the Indian ODI side for the series against England earlier in June, But the senior batsman failed to make the cut after failing the Yo-Yo test. That was a huge miss for the player who did all the work to be back in the reckoning.
The player who was disappointed for missing out cited that the test is necessary to keep players on their toes. What Rayudu did next was to work hard and make sure he cleared the test the next time.
Ahead of the Asia Cup, Rayudu had stated in a press conference that, “I have nothing against the decision to make the test compulsory. Every Indian team cricketer has to have a certain fitness level. To be honest, I believe in it. I was disappointed in a way as to why I could not clear the test, so I worked towards it and cleared it.”
Rayudu was sharp in the field against Pakistan and accounted for Shoaib Malik’s run-out. The manner in which he attacked the ball and hit the bull’s eye was a worthy sight for fans.
Jadhav coming handy with his role
Kedar was always known for his handiness with the ball besides being an able batsman lower down the middle-order. His 3/23 against Pakistan, which turned out to be his best figures in the format, gave India the cushion to run through the middle-order of their rivals.
India already has Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal as prominent spinners, but the unorthodox Kedar adds value in the spin department. His side-arm action still causes issues for batsmen and in the road ahead, it can be of major help for the Men in Blue.
The right-handed batsman played a solid hand for his unbeaten 28 against Hong Kong earlier as well. India needs a right balance in the line-up and Kedar gives them the authority to experiment with the team.
Duo need to keep fitness level going
India’s next assignment is against the West Indies and so far the pair has made the right noises and is likely to be selected in the squad. The major test for India lies in the ODI series against Australia away from home and then also hosting the team early next year. These three ODI series are the best way to test one’s self ahead of the World Cup.
What both Jadhav and Rayudu need to make sure is that they stay injury free and keep their fitness level high. They will be hoping to find the momentum series after series and consistent game time can only help them be in the groove. Kedar missed the IPL and also the England series with an injury and now he has come good on his return.
Are they worthy of a regular role?
The Indian middle order isn’t set at the moment and there are places up for grabs. Therefore the likes of Rayudu and Jadhav know that they can nail down two slots with performances to show for the same.
Rayudu is an able ODI player and with Suresh Raina failing to hold on to his place, it’s a real chance for him to make the number three position as his own.
His versatility means that in certain matches India can try KL Rahul out and send him lower down the order.
With Jadhav, besides his small crucial contributions with the bat, it is his bowling that gives India the edge. In Australia and England, the Indian team is likely to play one premier spinner and Jadhav there could feature as a solid backup option.