India lost yet another match at home. Visiting New Zealand team coming back from a 2-1 margin restored the parity of the series. The Black Caps beat India at the hometown of MS Dhoni, Ranchi, and eqalised the margin of the series 2-2.  In recent time nobody dares to challenge India at their home. The Black Caps did, as a result, the fifth match of the tournament has turned into a series decider. Indian team under the captaincy of MS Dhoni won the first ODI and third ODI in Mohali and New Zealand won the second and the fourth ODI respectively. The current Indian team has given rest to some of its key players like Ravichandran Ashwin and Shikhar Dhawan considering the grueling Test series which is knocking at the door of India. After the ongoing series, Indian team will have to start their preparation for the tough home Tests against England. The five-match Test series will resume on November 9.

So India’s decision to play youngsters like Hardik Pandya, Manish Pandey, and Kedar Jadhav has not worked that well in this series. Whenever dependent Virat Kohli gets out cheaply Indian batting is found struggling. There was a time when Indian batting department banked on Sachin Tendulkar and same can be said about Kohli now. The right-hander following his brilliant hundred in the third ODI at Mohali, which helped India to chase down a formidable target like 285, was dismissed for 45 runs. This Kohli’s early dismissal exposed the fragile Indian middle-order and as a result, India fell 19 runs short of the target. Rohit Sharma’s lean patch, Ajinkya Rahane’s positional change and a creaky middle order comprised of youngsters affected India’s rhythm.

The current Indian middle order altogether has played 55 ODIs. Manish Pandey, who scored a hundred against Australia at the beginning of this year which helped India chase down a big total, is yet to excel under Dhoni’s captaincy at home. Hardik Pandya tried to win India the Delhi ODI but his effort was not enough. Pandya since then has got one opportunity to bat where he failed. In the fourth ODI, he scored only nine runs. Manish Pandey’s shoreline in this series read like this 17, 19, 28* and 12. Meanwhile, Kedar Jadhav, who was dismissed for a duck, has done wonders with the ball, but in batting he has been a failure. So far in this series, Jadhav has managed to score just 51 runs in three innings but with the ball in hand he took six wickets in four matches. (Youngsters can’t be told to curb big shots: M S Dhoni)

Captain Dhoni, however, has supported his inexperienced batters and said, “Give youngsters more time as it is a learning curve.” With opener, Shikhar Dhawan being inconsistent with the bat and middle order batsman Suresh Raina losing his charm Indian team needs more youngsters who over the time will accustom with the situation. Yes, Dhoni is right. Indian team has a good chance to groom the youngsters as India will play another home ODI series against England in January before the Champions Trophy in England. So the target is to groom the youngsters who will pay back in the Champions Trophy or in the World Cup in 2019. The current series against New Zealand and forthcoming series against England will provide ample opportunity to the youngsters to prove themselves. (Batsmen falter as New Zealand beat India to level series)

So, this hue and cry against the Indian team is not right. There is no need to press the panic button. Captain MS Dhoni, who got an experienced team shaped by former cricketer Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, has the onus to build a new team before he retires. The current team has talent and skill, they just need time. The bowling department in this series has done extremely well. Pandya, who proved expensive in the World T20, came back in ODI as more improved all-rounder while Jasprit Bumrah has already impressed one and all with his death bowling abilities. Umesh Yadav has also been doing well as a wicket taking bowler. With spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja’s return to the team Indian team will be a complete bunch. So it is the right time to pour some young blood in the team before the Champions Trophy 2017.

(Image credit: Getty)