Given a choice, Indian skipper MS Dhoni would throw the new rule — of two different new balls from both ends and a maximum four fielders outside the circle at any time in an ODI — into the Bay of Bengal. He can’t do it, but he sure can expect his bowlers to adapt to new situation.
Down 1-2 in the seven-match series, Dhoni is looking to level it in his own backyard when his team takes on Australia in the fourth ODI on Wednesday.
After his bowlers were ripped apart by James Faulkner in the four-wicket defeat in Mohali, Dhoni has a dilemma. What should be India’s new strategy with the new fielding rule, which is adding to the problem posed by the two new balls?
“I think only two bowlers should play now. All batsmen should play and the part-timers should bowl,” was how Dhoni explained his unhappiness post the Mohali defeat.
Dhoni and his army had an extended net session on Tuesday. All eyes were on Ishant who was first seen standing aloof near the goalpost while others were fighting to control the soccer ball on team’s arrival. The overcast conditions and soggy outfield after last night’s heavy rain have certainly brought the wicket into the main focus.
In Ranchi’s first-ever ODI earlier this year, India had an easy five-wicket win over England.
Mohammad Shami was pick of the bowers with three wickets then. Will that tempt Dhoni to include Shami or left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat in place of Ishant?
The answer, normally, should be yes. But Dhoni’s problem is not just Ishant. In fact, the way Vinay Kumar has bowled in the series so far, it would be difficult for Dhoni to decided who to retain.
The two new-ball rule has made life difficult for two reasons: First, lack of pace on the slow and dead pitches. Second, it has not only snatched away the reverse swing from Indian pacers but also affected the spinners.
“I think it’s tough for bowlers. The ball doesn’t reverse much because it’s quite new. The ball is only 25 overs old at the most. Even spinners don’t get that much turn,” Suresh Raina said on the eve of the match.