With Indian openers being consistently inconsistent, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, and Hardik Pandya will have to face the meat of middle overs.
India vs Australia was the series where Virat Kohli returned. In more senses than one. The man’s revival as a batter was something of a concern for everyone in the country, not least Team India captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid. The former captain has established, once more, that he will be a key component of the Indian batting in the T20 World Cup, come October.
The core of Indian batting is also taking form and Kohli, along with Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya, will be the core of the Indian run-scoring effort, be it setting up a total or chasing one. The three have shown that they are in that kind of mental space and if they can perform at some level of consistency, this batting side will be something to reckon with.
How Kohli and Yadav are important to the effort was amply displayed in the Australia series that just ended in Hyderabad with a 2-1 verdict in favour of India. The two made sure that the visitors could not press home the advantage of a decent total, and even as the openers again under-achieved, made sure that Pandya and the rest only had the finishing touches to add to an exhilarating run chase.
Winners Are Grinners! ☺️ ☺️
— BCCI (@BCCI) September 25, 2022
As things stand, India’s top two are way too inconsistent to be expected to take the load for run-scoring in all the matches. This propensity to go all out against any bowling attack, on any pitch, and under any situation has seen both Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul succeed maybe once in three tries.
This tendency of only one of the top three scoring in every match has now taken the form of a little bit of a contagion. Take a look at the series against Australia – there hasn’t been one match where we have seen Sharma, Rahul, and Kohli score in tandem.
Of these three, Kohli has shown maximum consistency and if Yadav hopefully is on par in terms of form from now till the World Cup, these two will surely play the meat of the middle overs and score rapidly.
That, in Australia, would entail quick running between the wickets as much as finding the fence, given the size of the grounds. Converting ones into twos and even looking for threes is very much on the cards Down Under and no one better than these two and Pandya to put on the skates in the middle overs.
The rest, be it Rishabh Pant or Dinesh Karthik, and Axar Patel, certainly are not the best runners, nor are Sharma and Rahul. Essentially, Kohli, Yadav, and Pandya are the athletes who will have to run the anchor legs of the relay sprints. Be it while fielding or batting.
The just-concluded series has also seen the difference between the three athletes. Kohli looks much more comfortable with the orthodox, while Yadav goes for all the improvisations from the start.
Pandya, on his part, can put the pedal to the metal at the business end of the inning.
These, with the rest playing their parts hopefully well, is where India will get the runs. Dinesh Karthik at No. 6 makes sense since he can on occasion do with a couple of deliveries to settle in.
It may sound harsh but somehow Pant has played himself out of favour in the Indian batting line-up, especially with Karthik repeatedly coming good when it matters the most.
As for the rest lower down, Axar Patel has done his chances no harm at all with his show with the ball, as well as with the bat at times. But India’s lower order is likely the weakest when it comes to finding rapid runs, so essentially the top six need to carry the scoring – further filtering it out to the middle three.
Not one of the bowlers seems to have the batting skills to cart a few over the ropes. This is a real problem and with the options that are being considered, there is no real hope that they will dramatically get some batting magic going within a month.
So, there we have it. As expected, the big guns come to the fore when the chips are down, or when a big event is around the corner. Hopefully, the Asia Cup misadventure will now be a thing of the past as the Indian team embarks on its next series against South Africa and the T20 World Cup thereafter.
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