‘We won't find the complete product and we have to groom them’
The likes of Barinder Sran and Manish Pandey are going through a trial by fire in just their debut series but Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni feels there is nothing unfair about putting them up against a rampaging Australia as the team needs a ‘brave’ bunch of youngsters going forward.
India have already conceded the ongoing ODI series against Australia after going down in the third match in Melbourne as well. The youngsters have not quite made a resounding impact but by Dhoni's own admission, it is too early to judge them on performance.
Sran has been decent in his three outings so far, bagging three wicket in the process. Pandey came in to bat at 276/4 with four overs left in the Brisbane ODI. Despite his Indian Premier League showings, he is not a slam-bang cricketer and yet had to go for it, managing 6 runs off 5 balls in the end.
"If you are getting a chance to play for your country, irrespective of the situation, it isn't unfair. As captain that's what you have to communicate to these youngsters," said Dhoni.
"There is a lot of scrutiny and players who tend to bat at No 5 or 6, they tend to think of surviving till the end and show off as if they are hitting, remain not out in the end and are happy with it. That's not the kind of culture you want in the team," he added.
Dhoni said the exposure so far may not be a clear indication of their talent but their character is certainly revealed.
"When it comes to these youngsters, Pandey in the last game(second ODI) and Mann and Dhawan (third ODI), there was no hesitation of playing a big shot. When you play tough games, it gives you more experience than playing just a normal ODI. This is what has happened with them.
"You can't really judge their performances because they have only batted 12 to 15 balls. But you can judge their character based on those few deliveries."
"That is something you have to encourage, and at the end of the day the captain and the selectors have to look at that specifically. Because it tells you a lot about the character of these individuals, and you want brave people in the side.
Winning and losing keeps happening, but you want good characters in the side," the skipper added.
While it was about scoring a few more runs in the first two games, much about the defeat in the third ODI was to do with fielding. At the same time the bowlers weren't left alone either.
"If you see the squad for this series, it is a relatively inexperienced bowling lineup. Ishant Sharma has played a lot of international cricket but he is not someone who has been consistently part of the format. Umesh Yadav has been on and off and there are others who have made their debuts here,"said Dhoni.
"So we have to assess right now is how good the individuals are and what are they doing and what's their rate of development. I have always said that you have to groom youngsters. We won't find the complete product and we have to groom them, make them play and you will that they will service the team for a long time," he added.
Bowlers like Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav, who have played a sum total of 133 ODIs between them, and yet cannot get their bearings right in overseas conditions.
This is Ishant's fourth visit to Australia, and Umesh hasbowled here three times previously. How much longer will ittake for them to be accurate from the word go in matches played in this country?
And at the other end of this spectrum are the youngsters, two of them debutants in the third ODI. It doesn't get any more daunting than to play one's first international game at the mammoth MCG, and both Gurkeerat Mann and Rishi Dhawan felt its full force on Sunday.
Then there is Pandey, who has played three ODIs, yet has only got a proper chance to bat in one match. Last but not the least, Sran, who played his third match in six days and looked completely knackered, now knowing what it feels to be an Indian medium-pacer.
While the series has been lost, there is still a lot to play for, in the remaining two matches at Canberra and Sydney.
The team management ought to trust in these youngsters and give them a better chance to perform, thus testing their ability now that they have judged their character. After all, they could be in with shout for the selection to the World T20.