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India’s ODI Middle Order

October 22, 2010

Virat Kohli’s century, in a chase, against the Aussies means he’s a shoo-in for the time being. It’s tough for him to take a place in the starting XI for granted with Rohit Sharma being his closest competitor. Especially because Kohli has the edge over Sharma, being more consistent with the fifties while Sharma has only disappointed ever since the 2008 CB Series in Australia.

Sharma has had to come in quite low compared to Kohli but that does not explain the many, many failures he’s had since then. His two fifties in the last two years have not helped the team win. Heck, one of the two centuries in Zimbabwe ended up in a losing cause but that’s more of a bowling reserves problem. Clearly he has the talent and he’s been given a long enough run but the boy needs a harsher motivation to push him to perform for India.

Kohli’s outburst at reaching his century was understandable. His place is uncertain, his temperament is questioned and his commitment is doubted frequently. His name always comes up whenever a writer decides to write about Team India with the brat-pack angle. Yuvraj Singh named Kohli and Rohit as two players who don’t always listen to his advice and argue back in an interview last month. He speaks in interviews about how he has worked on his game and curtailed the attitude which didn’t help him in his first year in Team India and RCB. But you still can’t pick and choose your battles. This knock was important and it made a tough chase look easy, but where was this tenacity during the Asia Cup and the subsequent tri series where everyone else failed? Kohli has grabbed his chances with both hands and cramped feet in India’s flexible middle order so he definitely deserves a longer run and probably a starting XI spot, perhaps at the expense of Yuvraj Singh should Yuvraj not be able to regain his 2008-09 form anytime soon.

Indian cricket's ODI middle order blues

Middle Order Blues

Yuvraj had his unfortunate mix of injuries, loss of form and gain of figure (all related) but he’s also had his time to recover and rediscover his form. In this time we’ve only heard him gripe and whine whether it was as  Kings XI player or a India test player or as a India ODI player. His 50, ugly as it was, showed that he can score even when not fully and properly functioning. Accommodating him in the team at the cost of either Kohli/Rohit or a bowler still is a viable option but only if he starts firing again. This uncertainty, this hoping that Yuvraj and Rohit play like their former selves again is what has led to Saurabh Tiwary’s inclusion in the current squad. The buzz is that goof performances here might earn him a ticket to the WC. Seriously? A maximum of 12 ODIs before the seniors return and warm up before the WC is too small a time frame to consider his place in the WC squad. Now it’s too late to experiment. Now is the time to consolidate the little we have, (especially in the bowling department) give them more chances, increase their exposure. Even if that means we see Ravindra Jadeja and Vinay Kumar being carted all over South Africa. Sigh.

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