Even with the absence of some of the biggest superstars, the Nidahas Trophy tri-series in Sri Lanka, also featuring India and Bangladesh, was a blockbuster.
The tournament’s see-sawing final and the way it ended will be recalled repeatedly in India vs Bangladesh discussions. Bangladesh reiterated that they were no pushovers by taking the final to the very end after conceding two easy wins to the Indians in the group stage.
For the followers of Indian cricket, it was the absence of some of their regular players that made this series an intriguing watch – else, it might have ended up as a mere filler between the South Africa tour and the Indian Premier League.
Ahead of some important assignments abroad and the impending 2019 World Cup, it was pertinent for the team to test its bench strength. In the process, it has found itself more possibilities for the future.
Washington’s monumental success
Words aren’t required to describe Washington’s success in the tournament. Numbers will do.
114 runs given away 120 balls. And, 78 of the 120 are Powerplay deliveries. Can India keep him out of their T20I XI after this? Kuldeep Yadav might not find his spot once he returns.
So far, Washington has bowled in places that suit spinners, but in T20s pitches across the world aren’t drastically different. He’s also proved himself against stronger opposition at a younger age.
In the IPL last year, he had to tackle the likes of David Warner in the Powerplay. And Washington, in his unassuming way, is always up for these challenges.
His batting at the international stage is still unexplored. The teenager has a first-class hundred and ended up as the leading run-scorer in the last Tamil Nadu Premier League with three fifties and a century.
Can DK solve India’s No 4 conundrum in ODIs?
A match-winning knock for his country was long-overdue from Dinesh Karthik. The talent he always had, consistency he’d lacked and the opportunities he sporadically gets. But the one chance he got to be his team’s saviour, on the most important night of the tournament, he made it count with a never-before-seen calm.
He’s always shown restraint but has imploded during many nerve-testing scenarios. Which is why Sunday’s innings is a great promise for India. For, it wasn’t a mayhem; it was Karthik’s controlled destruction.
“Whatever situation comes, he’s ready – whether he bats up the order or down the order. That’s the kind of guy we need in our team,” India captain Rohit Sharma said of Karthik after the latter played the tournament-clinching knock.
But Karthik deserves to be sure of his spot in the XI. Once Pandya and Dhoni are back, will he still be used as a finisher in T20Is? If yes, then it will allow Dhoni to bat higher in the order and thereby ease his pressure to score quickly from the start. With Raina back, Manish Pandey scoring well consistently, India has a problem of plenty to deal with the middle order in T20Is.
Karthik can also possibly be the best fit for India’s No 4 position in ODIs. Given that he’s spoken with confidence about doing well in that role, he can be tried out in that slot along with Rahane.
No backups found for Bhuvi and Bumrah
One test that failed for India in the tournament is on the pace-bowling front. No one seemed to challenge the spots of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. When the duo return, they will easily be India’s primary T20 pace choices again.
Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah gave away 138 runs in the 114 balls they bowled in the three-match T20I series against South Africa and shared eight wickets between them. In comparison, Jaydev Unadkat gave away 139 runs in the 84 balls he bowled in this series, picking up seven wickets.
Mohammad Siraj leaked 50 off the four overs he bowled against Bangladesh in the group stage. 153 runs were score in the 102 balls that Vijay Shankar bowled. Shardul Thakur’s 117 balls cost India 176 runs even as he picked up six wickets.
Except Siraj (who played only one match), the other three bowled well in phases and all four have a combined experience of just 25 T20Is. So, the team management will hope for them to get better with more opportunities.
In any case, with the IPL just around the corner, this might not be the last straw for them to make a case for their selection. But it might also bring into spotlight some emerging talents, perhaps from the Under-19 World Cup winning side, who’ll replace them in the squad.