ICC World Cup 2019: India's possible middle order combinations
Yesterday the BCCI declared the squad of 15 members for the upcoming World Cup 2019 to be played in England. Apart from Ambati Rayudu's exclusion and Vijay Shankar's inclusion, there weren't many surprises in the selection.
English summers have recently seen a lot of run-fests in ODIs. There have been 300+ scores very frequently, and the English team has exploited the necessary conditions to good effect, rising to the top spot in the ODI rankings.
For any team to do well in England, the batting lineup has to contribute heavily. And while India's top order looks impeccable, the middle order is where the question marks lie.
India's middle order consists of MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Vijay Shankar and Hardik Pandya. Most of these players pick themselves as Shankar too had a good outing in the India-Australia bilateral series in March 2019.
On that note, let's have a look at the combinations which the Indian team management can try in the middle order during the World Cup.
1. Dhoni at 4, Shankar at 5, Jadhav at 6, Pandya at 7
This is the most likely combination in the playing XI. Dhoni brings stability to the innings while batting at No. 4 and the others can be floated according to the conditions.
If India gets a formidable start from the top 3 then Pandya can be floated up the order. If India is struggling, especially in chasing conditions, Shankar and Jadhav can provide a steady platform for Pandya to finish the game.
This also means India would have at least 60-65 overs of bowling, which is crucial in England as the strike bowlers might concede some runs considering the batting-friendly conditions.
2. Dhoni at 4, Karthik at 5, Jadhav at 6, Pandya at 7
Dinesh Karthik is a bit like the Benjamin Button of Indian cricket, getting better with age. After his innings in the Nidahas Trophy final, he has earned a new fan base for himself.
Karthik made his debut long ago in 2004 and has been under the radar ever since. He was one of India's highest run scorers in the 2007 Test series and part of the Champions Trophy 2013, both of which took place in England.
Karthik hasn't done much wrong since his return to Indian cricket, and has played a few good cameos while chasing. Additionally, he is a very good fielder and plays spin very well.
Karthik could be an ideal batting partner for Dhoni in the middle overs as both of them love to score singles and doubles. Together they can lay a robust platform for Pandya to execute the big shots at the end.
3. Rahul at 4, Dhoni at 5, Jadhav at 6, Pandya at 7
KL Rahul genuinely seems to have rediscovered his soul. He has been brilliant for KXIP this season, scoring 335 runs in eight innings so far. He also scored a stroke-filled T20 hundred in Manchester last summer.
Rahul's stroke-making ability could help him get a game or two in the World Cup. He can complement Dhoni well, as well as the other batsmen.
If Rahul continues to put in good performances in the rest of the IPL, he will make his case even stronger for a place in the playing XI.
Ravindra Jadeja's chances
Ravindra Jadeja might sneak into the team as a third spinner considering the recent exploits of spinners in England. He averages 70.25 in England in ODIs and has scored 281 runs in 10 innings.
Jadeja played a brilliant cameo of 22 in nine balls in the Champions Trophy final, helping India reach a respectable total. Moreover, he has an impressive bowling record in England as he has picked 27 wickets at an average of 27.
If Jadeja is included in the team, he could well add a different dimension to the lineup. But considering the batting riches already in the squad, it is unlikely he will get to bat higher than No. 7.