CB triangular series February 4, 2012

Six interesting subplots


Depending on the player, an ODI series can either be little more than a speed-bump on a long cricketing road or a pivotal juncture in the journey. So many are played that the importance of the series often depends rather more on the career arcs of the players involved than the results of the matches themselves. In Australia over the next month and a half, some will be scrapping to win more permanent places, others fighting to build their team again. ESPNcricinfo looks at six of the more fascinating individual subplots of the triangular series.

Matthew Wade

Every innings Wade contributes to, either with the bat or behind the stumps, takes him closer to usurping Brad Haddin as Australia's No. 1 gloveman. Over the years, the national selectors have often taken a long time to be convinced of the credentials of the next in line, Adam Gilchrist waiting more than four years between his ODI debut and a baggy green cap, while Haddin endured a similarly long spell in in waiting. Wade's position is further complicated by Tim Paine's uncertain recovery from a badly fractured finger, an injury that has clouded over the Tasmanian wicketkeeper's previously firm grip on the Haddin succession. Guaranteed a start for the first three matches of the series, Wade can make life very difficult for Haddin, Paine and the selectors by making runs and pouching chances.

Peter Forrest

Ostensibly the reserve batsman for the start of the series, Peter Forrest is actually on the first of what may be several Ashes auditions. Never sure of his place in New South Wales, Forrest ventured north to Queensland this summer, and has emulated the opening batsman Ed Cowan by making runs on a challenging, adopted surface to attract the interest of the selectors. In doing so he has edged ahead of the contracted Callum Ferguson, among others. Possessing a sound technique and solid temperament, Forrest's potential currently outstrips his record of performance, but should he get a chance to bat against India and Sri Lanka, he can make the first step towards an England trip in 2013. Depending on the fates that befall Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, his role could either be as the reserve batsman or as a member of the top six. Either way, Forrest's hopeful journey begins here.

Rohit Sharma

Last time Rohit Sharma was in Australia for a triangular ODI series, he was a young player with infinite promise and a chance to make his name with a string of savvy innings on bouncy surfaces. Five summers later, he returns in much the same position, having tread uncertain waters in the interim to still be without a Test cap. The reasons Rohit has not gone on from the sturdy start he made in 2007-08 are many and varied, but he now has another chance to show he is ready for longer-form assignments. The difference is that next time, there should be a vacancy for him in India's middle order that had, until the Australia Tests, been considered infallible. That will add to Rohit's motivation, but so should the memory that his last trip down under did not provide the final word on his future, though he played well. At 24, he must do it all again.

Umesh Yadav

An unbridled aggressor during the Test series, Umesh Yadav showed he had the speed, swing and attitude to dismiss the best batsmen. In between times, however, he was taken for plenty of runs by opponents who knew they could sweat on his errors in line and length. Another contributor to his wickets was the strong, silent work of an unrewarded Ishant Sharma at the other end. If Yadav is to develop his undoubted promise, he must learn discretion as well as valour, and in that sense a few ODIs in Australia may be helpful. The return of Praveen Kumar and the continued fitness of Zaheer Khan provides Yadav with a pair of more measured practitioners to work alongside, and MS dhoni will be hoping to see him make steps towards becoming complete, and not merely fast.

Mahela Jayawardene

Exhaustion pushed Mahela Jayawardene away from the Sri Lankan captaincy, but duty has drawn him back. At the end of a year of interim boards, upheaval and no fewer than four national coaches, leadership has returned to the hands of the man who led the team to the 2007 World Cup final. Through the recent unsteady period Jayawardene's batting has dipped - he averages 24.61 in Tests in 2011 - though his ODI output has remained steady. At 34 he is not a long-term solution, but may at least be able to lead Sri Lanka back into a vein of consistency until the heir-apparent Angelo Mathews is ready for the job. In confronting Australia and India, Jayawardene has the chance to once again stamp himself as leader, while also identifying the players he wants to take with him to the assignments beyond.

Tillakaratne Dilshan

Having lost the captaincy to Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan may again be cast as the batting maverick and fielding action man that made him one of the more watchable players in world cricket. It was in Australia, during the 2006 triangular series finals, that Dilshan stunned Australia by engineering four run-outs and taking a catch at Adelaide Oval in a matchless fielding display. It is that sort of energy that went missing from Dilshan's game under the burden of leadership, a role he never quite seemed ready for or suited to. Having returned to the ranks at the age of 35, Dilshan must make an impression this series, or he may soon be counting down the days to the end of his international career.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    I am still under the doubt why was'nt Matthews given the leadership....he has the temperament to do it.....one match we cannot forget is the MCG onedayer where Malinga and Matthews brought Sri Lanka to victory from no where....you hardly see cool headed guys like them in this era......you should give the laad a chance to prove his talent as a captain....i believe he can do it....no matter what the selectors think...

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2012, 5:34 GMT

    india will again win the commomwealh triseries....no one can stop champions.........india rocks......

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2012, 1:48 GMT

    No point talking about the Indians. Unless they are on a doctored pitch at home, they can't win. They are mentally weak, even the stars are now looking pretty soft, no desire to win.

  • Anit on February 5, 2012, 0:43 GMT

    Indian battng may click against SL as they don't have good bowlers. India will struggle against AUS. Both Gambhir and Shewag will continue to be tormented. The $1 million dollar IPL man, Vinay Kumar, will be chosen they Dhoni and will be hit all over.

  • kevin on February 4, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    You forgot the seventh and, arguably, biggest sub-plot of all, Daniel: Tendulkar's hundredth hundred. That should keep everyone in suspense infinitely, as things are going.

  • Vishal on February 4, 2012, 19:54 GMT

    Important series for the World Champs India to show that losing in Tests is a distant memory.

  • al on February 4, 2012, 19:49 GMT

    I think Rohit Sharma will retire from International crickter before you-know-who. Its shameless how some cricketers are using their name rather than performances to hang around. If Dhoni wants to be a true leader he should not select you-know-who in the playing XI and let Rohit, Raina, Virat play.

  • Ranil on February 4, 2012, 19:47 GMT

    All look rosy for Lanka,an excellent new coach even India could not rope in earlier,new (experienced) captain,recent good form having played on bouncy pitches and 'hurt' Dilshan free of captaincy burden.Right time for the Lions to come of age in Australia to win the trophy. Ranil Herath-Kent

  • Sira on February 4, 2012, 14:58 GMT

    @indianpunter: I am an Indian fan, and I am disgusted with all the focus on the 100th hundred. It is this preoccupation with personal landmarks and the prevalence of "star culture" that has played at least some role in India's decline. If a player can make the XI on his own merits, that's fine. But if not, we are denying another player his chance to make his mark.

    If the 100th hundred is all that we care about, then let's have Bangladesh or Zimbabwe tour India for a Test series and be done with it!

  • Dummy4 on February 4, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    All eyes on SL.Will mahela bring us back from the slump,or will his woes continue?and will dilshan fare any better?can the SL fans bear the teams inconsistency any longer?beating australia will be tough but a win will feel great rite now.and then there's team india who shattered our WC dreams ( no offense to india, they played great )but by beating them............THE LIONS WILL RISE FROM THE ASHES AGAIN.

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