- Promotion of Ravindra Jadeja seems to be part of the plan to fit him in the anchoring role
- Most of the new players in the Indian team are sent in to open the innings rather than play in the middle order
- India needs to have a strong middle order before the 2023 world cup which is being hosted by us
With the onset of IPL in 2008, India has witnessed a swarm of batsmen adding to the legacy of strong batting. However, giving everyone their preferred role has proved to be tedious for the team. As the 2023 world cup is approaching, the explicit gap between opening slot and middle order is becoming a big headache for Rahul Dravid and Co.
Jadeja being honed for middle-order?
Recently, India registered a massive 62 run victory over Lankans in the 1st T20 match in Lucknow. Out of the total score of 199, India’s middle-order could contribute only 3 runs as the top order was good enough for southern rivals. However, one particular aspect of India’s batting was that Ravindra Jadeja, who generally bats at 6,7 or sometimes 8 was sent in at number 4.
Even though an argument can be made that Jadeja was sent in for his hitting ability in death overs, his promotion surprised many. However, a closer analysis reveals that the experiment with Jadeja seems to be part of India’s preparation for the 2023 world cup.
Read more: We compared the stats of Manjrekar and Ravindra Jadeja, Ravindra Jadeja is the clear winner
India needs to start addressing middle-order woes
India’s middle-order doldrum has been an ignored topic for more than a decade. Factually speaking, MS Dhoni carried it throughout his whole career. But, after his retirement, India has struggled to find a batsman who can control the innings in case either Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma, fails.
Read more: Do we love to see our Heroes fall? Is MS Dhoni no longer the Captain Cool?
Currently, a plethora of players is lined up to take the ever vacant spaces of numbers 4,5, 6 and 7. While Rishabh Pant has, by and large, cemented his place as a middle-order batsman and wicket-keeper, his irresponsible batting has the potential to make way for Sanju Samson’s inclusion in the team. Similarly, players like Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Hooda, Venkatesh Iyer, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Washington Sundar, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav are other top contenders for different slots.
Most new players prefer top order
However, if you watch closely, a big chunk of these players prefers to play in top order. Venkatesh Iyer, who is batting at number 6 for India has been an opener for his domestic team. Similarly, Ishan Kishan is already opening for the national team and doing exceptionally well. Players like Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer and Sanju Samson would also prefer top order. Add to that already established openers like Captain Rohit Sharma and Vice-captain K L Rahul.
Read more: Changing openers, Erratic middle order, volatile bowlers– Indian Test Team is a very unstable unit
Problems are plenty for India’s middle order
Restructuring is the problem for India. Rohit Sharma is India’s best opener, so the captain removing himself from his career-best batting position is not an option. Though K L Rahul can bat anywhere, he is at his best when he attacks the hard new ball while opening the innings. On the other hand, Ishan Kishan is not known for anchoring the innings. However, Iyer has shown some maturity in the recent past, which makes him eligible for an anchoring role in the middle order.
Other than anchoring the innings, slog over hitting is also a big issue for India to tackle. If somehow, K L Rahul decides to drop down the order for an anchoring role, he would not have an experienced player to rely on from the other end. Players like Suryakumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyer can prove to be handy for the middle order, but they will have to be honed for this role during the next 6-7 months at least.
Hard choices have to be made
The time has come for India to make hard choices. Players do have their choices, but ultimately, it’s the team’s best interests that matter. India will have to send some openers down to steady the middle order and they will have to adapt to their new roles.
Read more: In knockout matches, Sachin clearly outshines Dhoni and Kohli
For a major part of the last decade, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have turned Indian batting into an invincible fortress. With Kohli going out of touch, India has to find a pool of players who can bat till the 50th over in the 2023 world cup.