Even a casual observer would have noted that India’s batting has not exactly lived up to expectations during the ICC World Cup 2011. With India having entered the knockout stage of the World Cup now, and with each match set to be a do-or-die affair, the batting line up does need to deliver the goods.
With Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag among the toppers in the run-getters charts during the tournament, and with Gautam Gambhir pitching in with a few good knocks too, it is the middle order which needs a close look, for the top order is no worry at all.
While Yuvraj Singh has found the touch of yore with a string of fifties followed by a magnificent century against the Windies, it is up to Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan (or Suresh Raina) to pull up their socks.
Against England, India’s start was so superb that they could have scored 375, but folded up for 330 runs and had to settle for a tie. Against South Africa, after a superb start thanks to Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambhir, India lost 9 wickets for 29 runs! Again, in the match against the West Indians, India’s last six wickets could not put too many runs on the board. While India had to eat humble pie against the Proteas, they won handsomely against the West Indies after a much improved bowling performance.
What Team India needs to do is to replace Pathan with Raina, since the latter is a more consistent batsman though he did fail in the only match he has played thus far in the Cup. Raina is also an excellent fielder and would be able to roll his arm over for a few tidy overs like Pathan does. He can score really quickly down the order and can also build an innings if need be.
Dhoni himself needs to score a few more runs in the remaining matches than he has done till now. He gets in to bat with few overs left these days and needs to be resourceful and aggressive while at the crease. Dhoni was left stranded against the South Afrcians and he needs support from late order batsmen like Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan.
Virat Kohli is best sent in at number 4 unless there are only ten overs or less to go when his turn comes. He is adept at handling the pacemen and can score heavily if able to bat for more overs.
India’s batting line up would surely need to be on song as the Cup nears its climax. One lazy performance and India’s dreams could be shattered. They have it in them to dazzle us all and to lead India’s charge. If inspiration is what they need, they only have to look up to Mr. Tendulkar himself and they will find it.