RANCHI: As the day progressed on the eve of the second One-Day International here, the conditions gradually became overcast from a bright sunny morning. And about two hours before Team India was scheduled to hit the ground for the practice session early evening, the JSCA International Stadium groundstaff had to draw the covers to protect the playing area from a light drizzle.
The weather situation on Saturday here much resembled the condition of the Indian teams – the one that has left for the T20 World Cup and the ‘second-string’ side playing the ongoing ODI series against South Africa. With each passing day, injury concerns grow for the team management.
This series may not be as significant from India’s point of view, given that the first-choice players are already training Down Under. However, in terms of finding Jasprit Bumrah’s replacement for the ICC mega event, the ODI series could have been the ideal stage. Even as it looks like Mohammed Shamiis the first-choice replacement for Bumrah, Deepak Chahar has impressed with his fine bowling in the T20I series. That could have just proved to be enough for the management to think of Chahar’s case if Shami misses the bus.

However, Chahar too is in danger of missing the T20 World Cup after being ruled out of the last two ODIs against the South Africa on Saturday. BCCI on Saturday announced Washington Sundar as replacement for injured Chahar in India’s squad for the remaining ODIs.

For the likes of Shardul Thakur, who had a great all-round performance in the last match, these injuries come as opportunities to knock on the selectors’ door. He will be eager to continue where he left off in Lucknow as India face a must-win situation in three-match series. The remaining two ODIs might prove to be crucial for the fringe players to break into the squad for the ICC mega event.

Asked how it feels to play in an ODI series while the main team is away to take part in the World Cup, India pacer Shardul Thakur on Saturday said at the pre-match press conference ahead of the second ODI here, “Of course it’s a big setback. Every player dreams of playing in World Cup, not just play but win it as well. It’s okay that I’m not selected this time. But there’s a lot of cricket still left and also there’s ODI World Cup next year.”

About any outside chance of making it to the T20 World Cup , Shardul quipped, “If injuries happen then anyone can come at any point of time. As of now, your responsibility is to be ready whenever and wherever you are asked to play. I will be mentally ready. ready if I’m given a callup. That’s all in my hands”.
The batting, mainly the top order, and fielding need much improvement as the Shikhar Dhawan-led side missed as many as four catches in the outfield in the first ODI. Barring vice-captain Shreyas Iyer (50 off 37 balls) and wicketkeeper-batter Sanju Samson (63-ball 86), no batter looked in touch. Young opener Shubman Gill and his partner Dhawan would look to be among runs to give India a head start.





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