India's bench strength on the tours of Australia and New Zealand has given the side plenty of confidence. (Image credit: Twitter)
Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill made their mark on the international stage when they guided the India U-19 side to the World Cup title in New Zealand in 2018. Gill was the leading run-getter for India while Shaw led from the front with his batting and leadership. The Mumbai lad was handed a debut in the series against West Indies and he responded with a century on debut in Rajkot. Shubman, on the other hand, impressed in the IPL and also scored heavily for Punjab in the Ranji Trophy. Hardik Pandya’s suspension meant Shubman was included in the side for the series against New Zealand.
Shikhar Dhawan, who went past 5000 runs in the Napier ODI against New Zealand, said the fast-tracking of Shubman and Shaw in the Indian cricket team displayed the bench strength of the current side. “I think the youngsters are maturing really quickly in Indian cricket and that creates a lot of competition in the team, everyone has to be on their toes. Someone like a Prithvi Shaw, the way he came into the Test team and scored a century and 70 runs against the West Indies, it shows that our bench strength is also very good. So even among the 15 (squad members), we have very high competition,” Dhawan said in the pre-match press conference.
Shaw was included in the Test squad in Australia but an ankle injury resulted in him heading home. However, India had good back-up in Mayank Agarwal and he responded with fifties in the Melbourne and Sydney Test. In the ODIs, the suspension of Pandya and Rahul also opened the door for Vijay Shankar, who put in a decent performance.
‘Know what to do’
Dhawan is on his third tour to Australia and New Zealand, having played in 2014, 2015 and now in 2019. The left-hander slammed a fifty after nine innings and despite having a poor show in Australia, Dhawan felt he was in the right space and he did not need to do any kind of adjustments.
“I think Australian and New Zealand conditions are quite similar. I feel that I'm an experienced player now. I came here a few years ago. So you know what to do and what not to do (in New Zealand). I know my technique suits all sorts of wickets, so I just back myself. I haven't worked on any footwork or technique specifically for New Zealand and even if I have, I won't tell. Once you are experienced, your mind is calm and at ease,” Dhawan said.
The second ODI will take place in Mount Maunganui at the Bay Oval and India will be aiming to extend their advantage.