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ICC WC 2019: Time to instill force in middle-ing order of India

Time to instill force in India middle-order

Manchester, June 28: Call this pessimistic. Untimely. Negative. Even more so, when India have won all their league matches, barring the wash out against New Zealand, so far to accumulate 11 points and just a win away from a semifinal berth in the ICC World Cup 2019.

There have been doubts over India's middle-order even during the run-up to the World Cup but runs from Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli at the top papered over that crack. But once Dhawan was out injured and KL Rahul was promoted as opener, those creeks became all the more visible. The middle-order consisting Vijay Shankar, Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni has not really cranked up the pace and it was evident in the matches against Afghanistan and the West Indies.

However, the force efforts of bowlers ensured that India would emerge victors from both the encounters. Here's a closer look at the India middle-order.

1. Vijay Shankar

1. Vijay Shankar

Perhaps, no other cricketer has been trolled so much in this World Cup, though Sarfaraz Ahmed may come very close. Vijay Shankar was taken into the team ahead of Ambati Rayudu for his all-round abilities -- the now famous 3D logic of chief selector MSK Prasad. But so far, Vijay's contribution has been restricted to the two wickets he grabbed against Pakistan.

With the bat, he has not given the impetus. Against Pakistan, he made a run-a-ball 15, a 41-ball 29 against Afghanistan and 14 off 19 balls against the West Indies. And in the last two instances, the Tamil Nadu man had ample overs and time to make an impact. But he failed to exploit it and he was not summoned by Kohli for bowling duties as well.

2. MS Dhoni

2. MS Dhoni

Dhoni began the World Cup in a positive manner and the quick 27 off 14 balls against Australia suggested the vintage Dhoni has indeed returned. Even his 46-ball 36 against South Africa was not an ungainely innings.

But the struggles returned against Afghanistan, a match in which he found the going tough against a plethora of spinners. The two sixes in the final over against Windies salvaged an otherwise average Dhoni innings that featured 28 dot balls. But it cannot be overlooked that the strike-rate of Dhoni has dwindled in India colours -- 76.48 from the beginning 2018. Dhoni from a different era would have gathered singles and twos at will in the beginning phase of his innings before exploding towards the end but these days thats high-risk game is not paying off regularly. He is still comfortable against pace but finds it mighty tough to rotate strike against spinners.

3. Kedar Jadhav

3. Kedar Jadhav

Jadhav has an impressive ODI record. From 64 matches, he has made 1242 runs at 42.8 with a strike rate of 100.9 with two hundreds and six fifies. And he has taken 27 wickets too. Ideally, it makes him a perfect player at No 6 but in his last nine innings, Jadhav has made only 159 runs at 26.5 and at vastly dwindled strike rate of 77.18. He has only one fifty in this period, the one he made against Afghanistan. And his services as a bowler too has been used sparingly by the team. In fact, just six overs spread over five matches, not fit for someone who is carrying the all-rounder tag.

4. Option 1: Dinesh Karthik

4. Option 1: Dinesh Karthik

Perhaps, it is time the team management opt for fresh faces in the middle-order. Dinesh Karthik is vastly experinced and can easily slip into the role of an enforcer or anchor. To top it, he has this recently acquired calm mind too, enabling him to channelise his skills in the right direction.

5. Option 2: Rishabh Pant

5. Option 2: Rishabh Pant

Pant might not have done a lot in white-ball cricket compared to his exploits in Test cricket. But Pant carries that X-factor, an ability to change the game in a matter of few overs and he too can be thougt of as an option. Pant can even be asked to open the innings along with Rohit Sharma, while KL Rahul gets the time to bed in at No 4.

6. Option 3: Ravindra Jadeja

6. Option 3: Ravindra Jadeja

Jadeja is a crafty left-arm spinner who hardly allows any leeway to the batsmen. In the last eight ODIs that he has played, Jadeja picked up 14 wickets at an economny of 4.59 and that in fact is slightly better than both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. He is a useful batsmen and an electric fielder. Perhaps, Jadeja can be brought in the place of Jadhav.

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Story first published: Friday, June 28, 2019, 14:25 [IST]
Other articles published on Jun 28, 2019
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