India won the ODI series 3-0 against Zimbabwe in Harare. Here are the major takeaways for the India team after their victory.

Shubman Gill is here to stay

Gill has broken down the doors of Indian selection with aplomb and has announced his intentions of staying around for the long haul. After being criticised for not making the most of his opportunities in the first two ODIs against West Indies last month, when he made 64 and 43, his subsequent knocks in the format have been 98*, 82*, 33 and a superb 130 on Monday.

His century further showed why he is a class apart. In an innings where no other batter who made at least 30 runs had a strike rate of over 82, Gill struck at 134.02, taking both the pitch and conditions out of the equation. His timing, his textbook boundaries along with his solid technique have always caught the eye of experts, and with consistent showings, it would not be a surprise if he finds a place in the 2023 ODI World Cup squad.

Samson has grabbed his chances

Though Samson made 43* and 15 in the two innings that he batted in the series, his overall performances in 2022 have been a huge positive. Touted a player with immense potential without consistency for the longest time, Samson has managed to silence critics and perform whenever chances have come his way.

In six ODIs, he has scored 130 runs at an average of 43.33 and a strike rate of over 101, while his average in six T20Is is 44.75 with a strike rate of 158.40. Though not yet a part of the first-choice XI yet, continued showings will ensure that he is in contention.

Is Shikhar Dhawan’s strike rate an issue?

Dhawan has been a long-standing servant of the Indian cricket team, but his strike rate in the last few months along with Gill’s emergence casts doubt over his place in the side. In 2022, the left-hander has scored 542 runs at an average of 49.27 in 13 games – the fifth-best among all batters with at least 500 runs – but with a strike rate of 76.33. Shai Hope is the only batter from a Full-Member country with at least 500 runs and a worse strike rate this year.

Dhawan, aged 36, is expected to be one of the openers for India in the 2023 ODI World Cup at home next year, and it is not without reason. Out of contention from the Test and T20I sides, Dhawan has been garnering runs in the 50-over format and averages over 50 since the resumption of cricket after the pandemic. He has always been a trusted performer in ICC events. In World Cups, Dhawan averages 53.70 with three hundreds from ten games, which increases to 77.88 in the Champions Trophy.

However, with the event being staged in India next year, and the Men in Blue not having a shortage of openers, it remains to be seen if Dhawan, who will be 37 then, will be the best bet.

Captain KL fails to inspire

Dhawan was initially named the captain of the Indian ODI side for the Zimbabwe series, but the job went to Rahul once he regained full fitness. Rahul, who led India for the first time this year when Kohli was out with an injury during the second South Africa Test, was also the leader in their 0-3 ODI drubbing against the Proteas.

Though India won the series under him, there were plenty of question marks around his captaincy in Zimbabwe. It started with the first ODI when Rahul, who is a part of the Asia Cup squad later this month, did not open the innings as the visitors were set a target of 190 for a win. Having been away for close to three months, Rahul should have ideally given himself adequate game time in order to prepare for the multi-nation event in the UAE.

His selection changes, such as including Shardul Thakur in the XI over Avesh Khan, who is also a part of the Asia Cup side, were debatable. His bowling changes in the third ODI – he gave Deepak Hooda one over on a track that was slow – were puzzling and though India did complete a whitewash, in the end, doubts remain whether Rahul is the best player to lead India forward in the future.