Boasting the most lethal bowling attacks in the upcoming ICC World Cup in England, India will start the tournament with their eyes set at nothing other than a win in the final. The bowling unit’s majestic performance in the last two years, added with the finesse of three of the best top-order batsmen in the world, the Virat Kohli-led side own the required ammo to go all guns blazing. However, there still remain few apprehensions about the middle order which looks unsettled in terms of who will play at what positions. Dubbed as one of the prime favourites, along with England, Kohli & Co. will look to settle their middle order problem soon.
As the ‘Men in Blue’ gear up to initiate their quest in the World Cup, it will be the bowlers who will lead the pack. Backed by two years of astounding performance all around the world, this bowling department has materialized itself into the best India ever had. To quench his thirst of becoming the third Indian captain to lift the most coveted cricket trophy, skipper Kohli would copiously rely on the bowling branch, led by Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. Both, having played enough cricket together, would be looking to withdraw full support from the English conditions with the new ball.
Indian team during their first warm-up match. Image source: BCCI.
In the last two years Bumrah has emerged as the prime bowler with wreaking havoc in the slog overs, resisting the onslaught of the opponents at the finishing stages. Rightly so he has been placed at the top of the ICC ODI rankings for bowlers. Kumar, on the other hand, sitting out for major parts 0f 2018, has earned back his place for his knack of taking wickets. In only six matches that he had played last year, the medium-pacer took 11 wickets. Leading to the multi-nation tournament, he holds the position of third highest ODI wicket-taker in 2019, a step below Kuldeep Yadav, the man who will be shouldering the spinning duties for the team. Yadav has been India’s leading wicket-taker in last 18 months or so with 65 scalps. Banking on his impressive economy of below-5, he will play the fundamental role of slowing the opposition’s run flow in the middle overs. With support from Mohammad Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravindra Jadeja, Kohli’s side possess the most potent bowling attack in this World Cup.
Another reason that would boost India’s chance of winning in England is the top three of their batting line up. With Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan opening the innings and Virat Kohli to follow, batting show of the Men In Blue would depend heavily on how these three perform. Such has been their dominance at the top that the three of them combined stand above everyone in the list of ‘highest runs scored by top three in international cricket’, post 2015 World cup.
Also Read: ICC World Cup 2019: England Team Preview
Set to play their first match on 3rd June, the major concern that agitates the second ranked-ODI team is their incompetence to figure out a stable middle order combination. Swaggering with three of the most lethal top order batsmen starting the innings, the middle order looks fragile and vulnerable with no one yet to consolidate the fourth position. There are few options that the team have flirted with, but none seem to be cut out for the role. However, as K. L. Rahul and Kedar Jadhav stand as the prime contenders for it, the team management have also failed to fill the successive batting slots with regular and constant names. This ambivalent approach to the middle order might cost the team dearly in a long tournament like the World Cup where sides look to settle the team combinations early.
Statistically speaking, India have one of the worst middle order batting line-ups among the other favourites. From the ICC World Cup 2015 to the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Kohli’s middle order batsmen scored at a rate of mere 36.77.
The problem continued as the middle order fiasco went on for another year after the Champions Trophy final loss.
Looking at the numbers from Asia Cup 2018 to now, the middle order fared their best ever performance in last four years, yet they were placed after below ranked teams like Bangladesh. It shows how Indian batsmen failed to parallel themselves with the current numbers of the game and got left behind.
Skipper Kohli would look to sort his team’s middle order woes as early as possible. However, it will be the bowlers and the three top order batsmen who will need to do overtime if India are to win their second World Cup on English soil.
Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma (VC), Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, Dinesh Karthik (wk), KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja.