India has been exposed in the sixth bowling department in the ODI series against Australia. All-rounder Hardik Pandya could bowl just 4 overs in the 2nd ODI against Australia due to his back injury. Besides, none of the top-order Indian batsmen could be called on to bowl a few overs if the regular bowlers are going for runs or having an off day.
It's a contrast to the days when India had 3 to 4 part-time bowlers in top-order batsmen in Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, and Yuvraj Singh who could not only bowl a few quick overs, without conceding much, but also break partnerships, and even win matches on just their bowling skills.
So, unless Pandya gets fit to do the sixth bowler's duty, India has to continue looking for a backup all-rounder who could bat and bowl in limited-overs cricket.
So, here are few options India could consider as a backup to Pandya as the sixth bowling option.
1) Vijay Shankar
Not so long ago, Vijay Shankar was considered a worthy all-rounder to be included in the XI. He was preferred over Ambati Rayudu for the No 4 spot in World Cup 2019 as he is a “three-dimensional cricketer”. Shankar has shown promise and delivered whenever he has turned up for India, but his fitness has failed him. Even in IPL 2020, he has had come up with few excellent cameos with the bat, but he broke down again. So, if Shankar could work on his fitness, he could be a good backup all-rounder for Pandya.
2) Shivam Dubey
Dube is a young, raw, and talented cricketer. But he is still a work in progress. However, if he is given proper guidance, and groomed properly, he can turn out to be a quality all-rounder. He has shown what he is capable of in the IPL 2020, hitting those huge sixes and playing some useful cameos lower down the order. But he has to add more firepower to his bowling skills. And if he is able to do that, he could become a quality all-rounder for India.
3) Krunal Pandya
Hardik Pandya has already suggested that there is an all-rounder in his house, and Krunal Pandya could be counted upon. But the selectors have been reluctant to try him in the 50-overs format as there is already an experienced left-handed batting all-rounder in Ravindra Jadeja. But Krunal is a better package as compared to Jadeja as the former is a specialist in limited-overs cricket, and can be counted on to do the dual job of taking wickets, and scoring runs for his team consistently across different pitch and conditions.
4) Axar Patel
Axar has had a few international appearances, but he was then discarded in favor of Jadeja as both were similar mode of players. But Axar has improved his batting and bowling considerably, and it was visible in the recently concluded IPL 2020 where he shone with both bat and ball. In the clash against CSK, he slammed three sixes off the last over bowled by Jadeja to win the match for Delhi Capitals. Hence, he could be a handy lower-order batsman and a useful sixth bowler.
5) Rahul Tewatia
The Rajasthan Royals player was the find of IPL 2020. He took on West Indian bowler Sheldon Cottrell of Kings XI Punjab and smacked 5 sixes off the pacer's over. But it was not a flash in the pan. He kept up his brisk scoring and useful cameos consistently during the IPL. His leg-break bowling was also spot-on in the tournament. And his fielding was excellent throughout. He scored 255 runs @ 42.50 and took 10 wickets and 9 catches in IPL 2020. He could be a great backup all-rounder for Pandya.
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