India's middle-order in ODIs too slow for winning the World Cup?
It is just five months to go for the World cup and India's middle-order is still not settled. Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli form India's top order and there is no doubt that they will continue to be India's top three during the World Cup, but Indian team's bone of contention has been its middle-order and the team management still looks clueless as far as solving this middle-order riddle is concerned.
If one goes by the team which has been selected for Australia and New Zealand tours then Dinesh Karthik. Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav seem to be the players who are candidates for the Indian middle-order as it seems too much of an ask for KL Rahul considering his present form.
MS Dhoni's struggles while batting seem to be never-ending. Gone are the days when he used to finish matches for India, lately, he has been struggling to score runs even at a strike rate in the '80s. Indian team is banking on his experience which might be handy while fielding, but during batting, he is looking more like a spent force which might be too much of a burden for a high profile tournament like World Cup.
Lately, England is preparing batting pitches for the ODI's and often a score of 350 is considered to be par on such wickets. Such high scoring games require batsmen who can switch gears quickly and who can bat at a strike rate of more than 100, once they are settled on the crease. Other two options that India is contemplating for the middle-order are Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu have a strike rate of 72.87 and 79.72 respectively in ODI's. Considering the kind of pitches that will be on offer in England, this kind of strike rate will certainly not suffice. Also, if Indian team ends up chasing a score which is more than 350 which is likely given the kind of pitches there are in England, these batsmen might not have the firepower to take India over the finishing line.
Kedar Jadhav seems to be the only player in the fray who has all the boxes ticking at the moment. He has an ODI strike-rate in excess of 100, he can play the role of a finisher and also, he is a handy part-time spinner.
With three out of four players in the fray for the middle-order looking too slow for the demands of the modern day ODI cricket, Indian team seems to be heading for a fragile middle-order for the World Cup. Having said that, an average Indian fan still hopes that with just five months to go for the World Cup, India will find a magic formula to solve this middle-order muddle.