Opinion: Amidst Kiwi whitewash, steady middle-order is the only silver lining for Indian cricket
After an embarrassing 3-0 loss from Kiwis in the ODI series, the biggest positive the Indian side had was its middle order. The Indian top-order consists of some tremendous talents such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan who have been carrying the Indian batting on their shoulders this decade. There have been several cases when the top order has performed well followed by a middle-order collapse.
However, that was not the case in the ongoing India tour of New Zealand. In the absence of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, the newly assigned Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal opened the Indian innings. Both the openers failed to convert some of their starts into a big score. Even the likes of Virat Kohli failed terribly as he managed the scores of 52,12 and 9. The average partnership for the first and second wicket were 26.33, 13.66 respectively. On the other hand, the average partnerships for 3rd, 4th and 5th wicket were 51.66, 83.33 and 62.33 respectively.
Shreyas Iyer at number 4 has been doing a remarkable job with KL Rahul taking up the glovework and scoring at whatever position he is asked to bat. They have been scoring regularly at crucial stages. Shreyas Iyer was the top scorer of the ODI series with 217 runs averaging 72.33 with a ton and two fifties while KL Rahul who was the leading scorer in the T20's followed him with 204 runs.
India has tried 13 players for the number 4 spot since 2016, which include the likes of Ambati Rayudu, Vijay Shankar, Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav but they weren't consistent. These 13 players aggregated an average of 35.14 in 91 innings while Shreyas averages a staggering 56.85 in 8 innings. Kedar Jadhav did play a nifty cameo in the first ODI but failed to impress in the second. Manish Pandey (42 off 48) who replaced Kedar in the third ODI played a crucial role adding 107 runs with KL Rahul for the 5th wicket but threw his wicket to finish but deserves a few more chances.
The added strength of the middle order with the probable return of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, India can compensate this whitewash in the upcoming ODI series with South Africa in March. With middle order consistently scoring a remarkable tally of runs, India seems to have resolved its middle-order crisis.Published 14 Feb 2020, 08:30 IST