From Shubman Gill to Mohammed Siraj: Top ODI contenders are making their move

By, Thiruvananthapuram
Jan 16, 2023 11:01 PM IST

There are openings in the Indian team and the top contenders are making their move

After the total annihilation of Sri Lanka in the final ODI to complete a 3-0 series clean sweep, India couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the New Year.

Mohammed Siraj and Shubman Gill PREMIUM
Mohammed Siraj and Shubman Gill

However, in a World Cup year, at home, the team will look to make each match count. Captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid still have a lot of work to do in the build-up for the ICC tournament in October and they will keep fine-tuning their strategy as they look to complete the selection jigsaw.

The top three is almost set but there is strong competition in the middle order and the spinner's slot. KL Rahul has a contest at hand with Ishan Kishan waiting in the wings after registering a double century against Bangladesh and there is the question of whether Suryakumar Yadav can carry his T20 form into ODIs? And, are Mohammed Siraj and Umran Malik ready for the big stage?


Virat Kohli's return to top form should make India’s planning for the World Cup easier, for a lot of things fall into place when you have the generation’s best batter in your line-up. It gives a formidable look to the top order. His unbeaten 166 in the third ODI was a perfect template for an ODI innings -- anchoring the innings before displaying an awe-inspiring range of power-hitting in the last 10 overs. His eight sixes in the knock are the most he has hit in an ODI innings.

Overall, the Indian think-tank had only positives to count from their top-order show. Shubman Gill has the opportunity to make the opening slot his own. And we can safely say, he has already taken the chance with a half-century in the first game and a hundred in the third to finish as the second-highest run-getter (207 runs, at an average: 69.00) in the series after Kohli's 283 runs at an average of 141.50.

Now the onus on him is to keep his strike rate up as any slip up in intensity could cost him. There are quite a few contenders for the position with Ishan Kishan, Prithvi Shaw and even KL Rahul waiting for an opportunity.

Rohit also looked in fine touch to finish third with 142 runs at an average of 47.33. He will not be fully satisfied, though, and needs to get a few big ones .


Shreyas Iyer has made the No 4 spot his own with a consistent run in 2022 -- 724 runs at an average of 55.69. But, he has Suryakumar Yadav waiting for a chance to prove his case. Like Gill, Iyer too will need to maintain the intensity and form. In the Sri Lanka series, he could have done well to cash in on the starts of 28, 28 and 38 that he got.

Surya hasn’t managed to make the same impact in ODIs that he has in the T20s but after his T20 World Cup show, he will be high on confidence and there will be pressure on the team management to give him some game time.


KL Rahul is obviously the first choice as keeper-batter and will be given the most chances in the run-up. It will be up to him to grab it. In case it doesn’t work out with Rahul, India has the option of Ishan.

For the No 5 batting position, even Surya is a contender. Though the Karnataka batter has the edge over the likes of Ishan and Surya in the ODI format because of his ability to control the flow of the game. An example of his ability to adjust to the situation was seen in the second ODI when he soaked in the pressure with risk-free cricket to take India to victory.

With Rahul opting out of the New Zealand series, Ishan will have his opportunity in the one-day series. For that, he will have to adjust to the middle-order role. Asked if Ishan can be used in the middle-order as well, batting coach Vikram Rathour said: "At the moment, he has been picked as an opener but as a batting unit we are flexible and if there is a need to try somebody like Ishan in the middle order, we might have to. At the moment though, he is being looked at as an opener."

For the middle-order position, Sanju Samson is a better fit. He is injured and it remains to be seen if the team management shows confidence in him on his return to fitness.


There’s no doubting the value of a quality wrist spinner. Apart from Kohli's batting, Kuldeep Yadav’s bowling in the second and third ODIs was the story of the series for India.

In the early part of his career, the chinaman bowler's numbers were impressive, striking at the same rate as Jasprit Bumrah. He couldn't build on the early success but there were clear signs that he is discovering his rhythm with five wickets in two innings. The team management will be seriously tempted to have him in the mix but much will depend on how it impacts the balance of the side. The onus will be on him to work on his batting.

Coach Rahul Dravid has mentioned how they are banking on their spin-allrounders in the ODIs. Axar Patel, Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin are proven lower-order performers. If Yadav improves his batting skills, he will be a serious contender.


India will be buoyed by the display of their pace duo Mohammed Siraj and Umran Malik against Sri Lanka. Most heartening was the way Siraj provided early breakthroughs in all the games. In the first ODI, he picked up two wickets with the new ball; in the second, he took one, and in the third, he ran through the Lanka line-up with four wickets. In all, he bagged nine wickets to top the wickets chart.

Umran also lived up to the billing by generating searing pace. He made the difference in the first two games by giving breakthroughs in the middle overs.

The team has just one pace bowling all-rounder in Hardik Pandya. So, the competition for places when Jasprit Bumrah comes back will be interesting, to say the least. Arshdeep Singh provides the left-arm pace angle with skiddy pace. It’s a contest between the three Siraj, Mohammed Shami or Umran. One of them will have to make way. Siraj has stepped up nicely. If they want to go with a complete outright wicket-taking option in the middle overs, then there is Umran or a new ball operator then they have Shami, who can also be banked upon in the slog overs.

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