After dominating the T20I leg of the England tour, India went into the ODI series against England as the favorites. They thumped the hosts in the first ODI and gained the important 1-0 lead in the 3-ODI series. It seemed that the visitors would easily come out on top in the next 2 games. But the Eoin Morgan and his men were in no mood to give up just yet.
It was an important series as the World Cup is scheduled to be held next year in the same country. A win here would have been a massive boost but in turn, it proved to be a reality check for India. The hosts emerged victorious in the last 2 game to seal the ODI series 2-1. It’s easy to look at the mistakes in the hindsight but a few were obvious.
Let’s analyze the 5 reasons why India lost the ODI series
#1 Shikhar Dhawan’s misfortunes
Each time the Indian opener walked out to bat, he looked in top form from the outset. He struck some delightful strokes every time but somehow found a way to get out. The left-hander had scores of 40, 36 and 44 which show that he failed to convert the good starts into something substantial.
In the first ODI, he threw away his wicket after a great start. Ben Stokes’s tremendous catch at Lord’s cut short his stay. Then, in the final ODI, after weathering the initial storm of the moving ball, he got going but unfortunately, was run out. In the recent past, whenever Dhawan scored big, India ended up on the winning side more often than not which wasn’t to be in this series.
#2 The middle-order problem
It’s been an issue for India for a while that the top 3 contribute heavily while there have been numerous players tried in the middle-order but none of them could cement a place. After batting at No.4 in the T20I series, Virat Kohli moved back to his No.3 slot. KL Rahul occupied the No.4 place but he could score 9 and 0 in 2 innings.
He was replaced by Dinesh Karthik in the 3rd ODI but he could accumulate just 21 runs. Suresh Raina, who made a comeback in the ODI squad, looked way off-color. MS Dhoni was heavily criticized for his uncharacteristic knock in the 2nd ODI while the usual finishing touch was missing at Headingley. India need to sort out the middle-order issue soon enough before the World Cup.
#3 The absence of Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar
Team India has done so well in limited overs cricket in the past couple of years and one of the primary reasons for that has been the rejuvenated pace attack. Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar have formed a formidable pair that does wonders with the new ball as well as during the slog overs.
Unfortunately, Bumrah had to miss the T20I and ODI series because of injury. Bhuvneshwar too missed out on the first 2 ODIs. He did make an appearance in the last ODI but seemed like carrying a niggle as he didn’t look anywhere close to his best. For any side, missing out on such wonderful pacers would be a huge loss which was reflected in India’s performance.
#4 Over-reliance on the spinners
India had a wonderful time in South Africa earlier this year when the 2 wrist spinners wreaked havoc and played instrumental roles in winning both T20I and ODI series. A similar script was played in the England T20I series and the first ODI as well. Kuldeep Yadav bagged 6 wickets at Trent Bridge and the English batsmen looked clueless.
But the hosts came back strong in the next 2 ODIs and handled him pretty well. Yuzvendra Chahal, despite bowling decently, failed to pick up wickets. In all 3 games, Kuldeep was the go-to man for Kohli. Apart from him, there was no one who threatened the opposition. The pacers were highly ineffective and the over-reliance on spin hurt India badly.
#5 No sixth bowler
The Men in Blue were served pretty well of late by having 5 regular bowlers in the side. But when they were put under pressure by England, the bowlers were found wanting. Other than the frontline bowlers, the skipper looked around the park and found no backup option. Hardik Pandya, playing the role of the 5th bowler, was expensive and had an economy rate of over 6 each time.
Suresh Raina was the sixth bowler in all 3 games but the maximum number of overs he bowled was 3 and went without having anything in the wickets column. In the previous series, Kedar Jadhav was donning the duties of the backup spinner and did a decent job at it. In matches when the bowlers are under the pump, the team needs to find a batsman in the middle-order who can bowl a bit.