India vs England: Who Will Replace Iyer – Suryakumar Yadav Or Rishabh Pant?
India have a big opportunity to make a sweep across formats when they face England in the second ODI in Pune on Friday. Having already won the Test and T20I series, the home team is a win away from making it three out of three against one of the most formidable opponents in international cricket. India will be forced to make a change in the middle order with the injury to Shreyas Iyer ruling him out of the series. It will be interesting to see who the think-tank chooses as the replacement – Rishabh Pant or Suryakumar Yadav?
Shikhar Dhawan made a big statement in the series opener after being snubbed in the T20I series against England. He is an outstanding ODI batsman and showed his class with a Player of the Match performance scoring 98 on Tuesday. Rohit Sharma has a tendency to rise to the occasion in the big matches. He scored a hundred in the World Cup encounter against England in Birmingham in 2019 and would be looking to get a big one to wrap the series for India against the number one ranked team in the world.
Virat Kohli has not scored an international hundred since November 2019. Although his numbers in the format are still impressive since 2020 – 487 runs in 10 innings with 6 fifties, it is time for the King to get that three-digit score and he will not get a better opportunity than in a big game which can define the series for India against the best side in the world. Kohli the captain will have extra incentive to deliver as a 3-0 sweep in the series – India replace England as the number one ranked team in ODI cricket with that scoreline.
The main question for India is who replaces Shreyas Iyer at number 4. Kohli and co. would be very keen to try Rishabh Pant at that position. The left-hander has been in devastating form in Test cricket since the tour to Australia last year and is only a matter of time before he replicates that in the 50-over format too. Pant has a modest record in the format till date with 374 runs in 14 innings at an average of 26.71 but there is every chance that will go rocketing upwards in the matches and years to come.
Pant will also be a good option for India between Kohli and Rahul – two right-handers and can provide the innings the impetus in the middle overs – a period where India has often lagged behind in the run-rate. He will also be an effective counter to the biggest threat from England – Adil Rashid – with the ball coming into the left-hander.
The other option is to hand over an ODI debut to Suryakumar Yadav. Yadav had a phenomenal start to his international career playing two smashing knocks in the T20I series against England. He was also in tremendous form in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2020 scoring 332 runs in 5 innings at a strike rate of 151.59 including a hundred. What stood out during the competition was his scoring rate which went up significantly – a similar trend was seen in IPL 2020 in the UAE. Yadav is in the form of his life and is not only scoring big but at a very high strike rate and this is the best time to draft him in the XI. It will be a tough call for Kohli but Pant’s X-Factor may just tilt the balance in his favour.
KL Rahul has made number 5 his own position in ODI cricket and is a good fit in the lower middle-order with his ability to strike big at the death. The Pandya Brothers will follow at 6 and 7. Prasidh Krishna will retain his spot after a fine debut and Shardul Thakur – the wicket-taker and Bhuvneshwar Kumar – the master restrictor will complete the pace attack.
The only bowler whose position is in jeopardy is Kuldeep Yadav. The Chinaman bowler has seen his fortunes dip across formats and teams after a disastrous IPL 2019 with the Kolkata Knight Riders. Neither is he picking wickets nor is he able to maintain any control and restrict the opposition batsmen. From 67 wickets in his first 31 innings at a strike rate of 25.4 and economy rate of 4.73, Kuldeep’s ODI fortunes have taken a dramatic dip since 2019. He has picked just 38 wickets in 29 innings thereafter at a strike rate of 42.1 and economy rate of 5.62.
If the wrist spinner is left out then it will be a direct toss up between Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar to replace him in the XI. Though the leg break bowler has been one of India’s biggest match-winners with the ball in ODI cricket in the last few years, his numbers have also seen a dip since 2019. While he has retained his wicket-taking prowess in the format with 36 wickets in 20 matches in this period, it is his rising economy rate which is a big concern. Chahal has conceded at a rate of 5.96 runs per over post 2019.
Sundar, in contrast, will bring with him accuracy and discipline and will be more restrictive. He does not have the same wicket-taking ability as Chahal but can choke the English batsmen for runs in the middle order which may be the need of the hour and the requirement of the team. And of course, he adds depth to the batting though that should not be a concern for this Indian XI.
So, in all likelihood, this should be India’s best XI for the second ODI in Pune on Friday:
1. Rohit Sharma
2. Shikhar Dhawan
3. Virat Kohli
4. Rishabh Pant
5. KL Rahul
6. Hardik Pandya
7. Krunal Pandya
8. Washington Sundar
9. Shardul Thakur
10. Bhuvneshwar Kumar
11. Prasidh Krishna