During the series-levelling win at Adelaide, a match-winning cameo of an under-rated Indian cricketer was easily forgotten amid the praise of master chaser Virat Kohli’s 39th ODI ton and MS Dhoni’s 55* to finish the game. We are talking about Dinesh Karthik who played a useful cameo of 14-ball 25* that not only took off the pressure from a tiring Dhoni, but also brought down the required run-rate to manageable levels.
So, when 7 was required off 6, Dhoni brought out his trademark slashed six to all but seal the game in India’s favour. He then ran a single to hit the winning run and walk away with all the accolades.
However, captain Kohli did not fail to mention Karthik’s contribution and highlighted his performance. Karthik later said in the press conference that he did his job of a finisher.
With India set to face Australia in the third ODI in a virtual final at Melbourne as the series is levelled 1-1, a question looms whether Kedar Jadhav should be preferred over Dinesh Karthik at the No 6 slot.
Kedar Jadhav has not done anything wrong to not merit a place in the XI.
Hardik’s absence unsettle calculation
But the absence of all-rounder Hardik Pandya, suspended due to controversial comments in a talk show, has thrown the team’s balance out of the window. Kohli had to then bank on the experienced spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja for this position.
Although India have a medium-pace all-rounder Vijay Shankar in the squad, the player is too new to international cricket to risk in a big game in the third ODI at Melbourne. India would like to win the third ODI to finish off the tour on a high after a historic and maiden 2-1 Test series win over Australia Down Under.
So, bringing in Kedar Jadhav in place of Jadeja would be a risky proposition as bowling Jadhav for 10 overs can lead to his recurrence of hamstring injuries that he has suffered of late.
The only spot to accommodate Jadhav is at No 6 in place of Dinesh Karthik. But after Dinesh’s match-winning cameo of 25, would the team management risk replacing him?
The third ODI is being played at Melbourne Cricket Ground where India had posted a win in the preceding Test series. Jadeja took a match haul of five wickets on a two-paced wicket. Hence, bringing in Jadhav as the sixth bowler can be an advantage for Kohli to make the best use of the pitch conditions and cover for a bowler who may have an off day during the match.
Multiple utilities of Kedar Jadhav
Besides, Jadhav has the knack of breaking partnerships and taking wickets at critical junctures of the game. Bringing in Jadhav will help India strengthen the bowling attack which has taken a bit of stick in the last two ODIs.
Jadhav is also a reliable bat down the order as he has skills, temperament, calmness to play according to the situation of the game and even go for big hits if the situation demands. He has done it previously for India and can do so again. Jadhav has last won the Asia Cup for India against Bangladesh, finishing off the final in the company of Kuldeep Yadav.
Unfair to replace Dinesh Karthik?
If Jadhav does get selected, it will be an unfair call on Karthik who has done no wrong so far. But Karthik’s moment of brilliance has been far and few and can be said to have not made the most of the opportunities he has received so far. His Nidahas Trophy final show is still his best performance so far even after almost a year of that match.
Nevertheless, Karthik is in the scheme of things in India’s plan for 2019 World Cup and can be given a longer rope. But Jadhav too has served Indian cricket well so far and he is too in the reckoning for the big tournament.
Hence, it’s a catch-22 situation for India whether to persist with Dinesh Karthik in the third ODI or give Jadhav a shot in a virtual final. The pressure will be on both of them.
Cricwizz believes Jadhav is a better package overall compared to one-dimensional Karthik and the former edges the keeper-batsman with his bowling skills. Will India follow suit and replace Jadhav with Karthik for the Melbourne ODI in a virtual final?