World Cup 2023: 3 issues plaguing India's ODI side

Starting off another home World Cup as favourites, India, though, have multiple issues to iron out before they step on the field at the quadrennial event next winter. 
 
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With the conclusion of the T20 World Cup in Australia, the ODI game, which stood on a backburner for months, has risen back to prominence. As the build-up to the 2023 World Cup picks up steam, India's preparations for the quadrennial event on home shores have regained the spotlight. 

Rohit Sharma & company are eyeing India's first major ICC men's title since the 2013 Champions Trophy and there wouldn't be a better opportunity to break the decade-long drought than a 50-overs event in conditions they've mastered over the years. 

The 50-over game being India's strength, their first XI looks quite robust and in pink of health, especially the middle-order. Once a problem area heading into the 2019 World Cup in UK, the spots at No.4-5 now have multiple strong candidates. 

Apart from Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul, who have nailed the two slots with encouraging performances, the Indian think-tank has healthy options up their sleeves in the form of Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson, Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan among the rest.

With the middle-order addressed, India have limited areas to iron out. Their top-order features two of the modern-day one-day greats in Rohit and Virat Kohli and their fast-bowling group is headed by Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Mohammed Siraj. 

But there are areas to iron out, still, and they are under scanner today as India go deeper into their build-up towards the 2023 World Cup. Here are three immediate issues for India to resolve ahead of the big event next year. 

Worries for India prior to '23 World Cup 

Shikhar Dhawan 

There is no bigger worry than this, especially as India continue to persist with Dhawan amidst an evident decline in his flow at the crease. Reduced into a one-format specialist by design and merit of performances, the experienced left-hander has a SR of 75.11 with a subpar average of 39.11 this year over 19 innings. Only twice before since the turn of the century has an Indian opener recorded a worse rate of scoring for a year. 

In the series against New Zealand, Dhawan tried to dance down the ground to try and disturb the line outside the off-stump through which the seamers cramp him. That helped him overcome a slow start in Auckland to finish 72 off 77 but his following scores were a reversion to mean: 3 off 10 and 28 off 45. 

While Dhawan has been failing to give India starts of real substance at his end, Shubman Gill has been enjoying the year of his career in the ODI game and staking a claim for a regular spot alongside Rohit. Before a rare failure in the ODI in Christchurch, he was averaging above 78 with a strike-rate past 100 for the year. 

The forthcoming series against Bangladesh was considered an ideal opportunity for the selectors to make the tough call and give Gill a place of incumbency. But with the decision-makers persistent on a declining Dhawan, it becomes critical for India's cause that he shows signs of revival and does that quickly. 

Spin 

It's a bit of a deja vu as India head to another home 50-overs World Cup with spin as one of their worries. Back then, India could paper over the struggles of a declining Harbhajan Singh through the allround excellence of Yuvraj Singh and the then young, rising R Ashwin. The protagonists of a similar tale before the 2023 edition are Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.

At their best 'Kulcha' would run through sides and help India cover up their problem areas. Now, they are the ones holding the Indian attack back, posing a major headache for the selectors and the management. Since the beginning of 2019, Kuldeep, whose variations and mystery have been deciphered, is averaging 38.58 with an economy rate of 5.57. 

Also Read: Kohli, Rohit to be phased out from T20Is in the coming months: Reports

With the ascent of Ravindra Jadeja as India's designated No.7, and the dwindling impact of 'Kulcha', Kuldeep has become a backup to Chahal over time. In the same timeframe, Chahal has earned the tag of India's No.1 spinner, averaging a healthier 28.24 with a manageable ER of 5.74. 

But look deeper, and Chahal's flat-pitch troubles stare at you quite hard. Since the beginning of the pandemic, in the pronounced 'SENA' countries, the wristspinner has taken his 16 wickets at 37.25 apiece. The moment the surface goes excessively flat, Chahal's range as a spinner tends to be exposed, especially his defensive skills. 

Backup fast-bowling

India's first line of pace attack looks settled with Bumrah leading the pack, and Shami-Siraj shouldering arms. But their backup arsenal seems unconvincing. Promising is the word that one would allude to the names of Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik and the rest with.

But with limited game time up their sleeves, how these young seamers find their feat over the coming months remains a puzzle for Indian selectors to manage, as they also have to ensure that the first-choice quicks are also getting enough overs under their belt.