With no viable option in top six, there’s an obvious conundrum around the 6th bowler problem that team India faces, and more so, when Virat and Rohit haven’t preferred to use themselves lately.
A sublime century from Rohit Sharma followed by a masterful innings from the Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli guided team India to a 7 wicket victory over Australia in the final ODI of the series at Bangalore; thereby helping themselves to a 2-1 series victory over the Australians.
K.L. Rahul’s ‘multi-cuisine chef’ like role while batting and wicket-keeping, India’s immaculate death bowling, an ever reliable batting top order – were some of the positives for the cricket team from this series. However, with a series win such as this people often talk about all the positives and somewhere the minor problems take a backstage.
Bad news for Shikhar Dhawan. Got to feel for him. It means KL Rahul has to change his batting position again. He’s like a multi-cuisine chef, ready for any order!— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) January 19, 2020
What minor problem?
In fact it might well turn out to be a bigger one if not taken care of at this stage. Maybe the team management is also aware of this issue. It’s the 6th bowler problem.
In the recently concluded series against Australia, team India played with five frontline bowlers in all three matches. All the frontline bowlers performed exceptionally and even the death bowling was great in the last couple of matches.
Saga of Mumbai ODI
However, the story was a tad different in the first ODI in Mumbai. When David Warner and Aaron Finch were smashing Indian bowlers all over, there was no other option for the captain Virat Kohli at his disposal. He was desperately chopping and changing his bowlers, but none seemed to trouble either of the Australian openers. The likes of Bumrah, Shami and Kuldeep tried hard but couldn’t sneak in. India couldn’t take a single Australian wicket.
Why a 6th bowling option?
It’s in situation such as these where a 6th bowler problem comes into limelight. India doesn’t have such an option at the moment. Playing with just five frontline bowlers is always a gamble in cricket.
The day one of the bowlers has an off day or unfortunately gets injured during the course of a match, the captain looks short of ideas and the match may quickly move out of the hand.
Similar was the case in the first ODI, where each of the frontline bowlers went wicket-less and hence the match slipped away. There was no one Virat could look up to so as to break the Australian momentum.
With Hardik Pandya out of the team due to injury and Kedar Jadhav not being a part of the team since last few games, there is no one in the top six who can roll his arm over and provide an extra bowling option for the captain.
Why don’t Virat and Rohit bowl anymore?
Virat and Rohit’s bowling abilities are quite evident to every cricket fan. Both of them have rolled their arm previously for the Indian cricket team and their IPL teams as well. Rohit in fact has an IPL hat-trick playing for Deccan Chargers in 2009. Virat himself used to bowl often during Dhoni’s captaincy and was frequently used as a part timer.
It’s quite weird to see both Virat and Rohit’s reluctance to bowl anymore in cricket recently, and more so, for the fact that India does need a solution to the 6th bowler problem – it may not be a necessity but always much preferred.
The Indian cricket team that lifted the 2011 World Cup always had those extra options whenever needed. MSD was blessed to have the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina along with few others to contribute with the bowl as and when the need arose. It does allow the captain much more flexibility which Virat isn’t experiencing presently.
The team management along with Virat will be wary of this 6th bowler problem and it’ll be interesting to see if Virat himself along with Rohit can be brought back into their bowling grove once again. The captain Virat and the vice-captain Rohit as the 6th bowling option may well be a win-win situation for the team without compromising with the team balance.