ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: India’s middle-order woes exposed at the worst possible time

Omkar Paranjape
Thursday, 11 July 2019

Over-dependence on Sharma and Kohli hurts India’s campaign

MANCHESTER: With no solution to the middle-order crisis, this outcome was long due for Virat Kohli and Co to catch up with the law of averages.

India’s top three of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli were one of the most feared batting line-up coming into the World Cup. And for good reason. Throughout the World Cup, the trio had batted with a sense of responsibility.

Rohit Sharma was undoubtedly the man in form with 647 runs to his name prior to the semi-final. Virat Kohli too had leashed his game-that helped the team make up for a brittle middle-order. However, he had scored healthy 442 runs in the process. However, India’s planning for the past 18 months leading into the showpiece event had gone awry and a few knee-jerk inclusions were made in the middle-order.

Rishabh Pant, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya failed to give a sense of authority and stability to the middle order and barring Hardik, were reduced to miscellaneous roles in the squad.

With India exiting the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in the semi-finals at New Zealand’s hands, the concern over the middle order came to light once again. 

With Kohli, KL Rahul and Rohit falling cheaply - a first for a top-three to be dismissed for one run each - India were 5/3 and the win probability went from 70 per cent in India’s favour to 27 per cent.

That is when the onus shifted to the rest to stand up, to the New Zealand bowling attack and make themselves count with required rate climbing and the pressure with it.

And the middle order choked, again. Dinesh Karthik fell to a blinder by Jimmy Neesham, Rishabh Pant was going along nicely until he went after a delivery outside off and found Colin de Grandhomme in the deep and Hardik Pandya repeated what Pant did. Pandya also went for a delivery outside off by Mitchell Santner and found the fielder. “Our shot selection could have been better,” said Kohli in the post-match interaction and he was absolutely spot on. It holds true for Pant, KL Rahul, Pandya and for Kohli as well.

Virat Kohli admitted his side had paid the price for “45 minutes of bad cricket” as he looked back on the wreckage of his side’s stunning World Cup exit.

Kohli, the world’s leading batsman, was one of the India stars to flop as he was dismissed for one alongside Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, who also only managed a single each.

“It’s tough, 45 minutes of bad cricket put you out of the tournament. It’s hard to come to terms with but New Zealand deserve it, they put us under pressure and came through in the key moments,” the skipper concluded.

With the World Cup out of the way for India, the challenge will be to build for the future. Make some changes, switch things around and it needs to start with the middle order.

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