Indian cricket team’s middle order woes a concern: MSK Prasad
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Indian cricket team’s middle order woes a concern: MSK Prasad

The Indian cricket team has been undertaking plenty of experiments in a bid to finalise the squad for the 2019 World Cup but the eroding strength of the middle order has had the selectors concerned, according to chief selector MSK Prasad

india vs new zealand 2017 Updated: Oct 23, 2017 16:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
India vs New Zealand,Indian cricket team,Virat Kohli
Indian cricket team’s middle order woes have deepened and chief selector MSK Prasad has dubbed it a ‘concern’ after the team was selected for the Twenty20 International series against New Zealand and the Tests against Sri Lanka.(AP)

Too much experimentation is eroding India’s middle-order strength rather than strengthening it, prompting chairman of selectors MSK Prasad to address it as a ‘concern’. The chopping and changing however isn’t going to stop any time soon.

According to Prasad, they are going to look at all options before closing on a particular squad before a major event (read 2019 World Cup). “The team management, the selection committee all of us are definitely concerned about it. And that’s the reason we are trying before a big event comes up or before we finalise a final squad for a major event,” said Prasad on Monday after the selection committee meeting to pick squads for the T20 series against New Zealand and two home Tests against Sri Lanka.

“By then we will try out different options, and there are some of the guys who are doing (well) at India A (level). We will keep trying options before we close on a particular squad,” he said.

Barring Sunday’s upsetting loss to New Zealand, India haven’t been challenged much in the ODIs --- 3-1 in West Indies, 5-0 in Sri Lanka and 4-1 at home against Australia --- since the Champions Trophy final loss to Pakistan. But that can’t cover up the mess India’s middle-order have been for some time now, courtesy the constant experimentation.

For example, against Australia, Manish Pandey batted at No 4 for majority of the matches while Hardik Pandya did that job in the first match in Chennai. On Sunday, Kedar Jadhav came out to bat in that spot and Dinesh Karthik at No 5. Jadhav made 12 off 25 and Karthik 37 off 47 balls.

The experimentation has been mindboggling. Over the last 10 ODIs, India have fielded four batsmen at No. 4, five at No. 5 and three at No. 6. Situations dictate batting order shuffles but surely there can be some method to the madness?

There have been inadvertent casualties as well. In Sri Lanka, Prasad had said the team would try out KL Rahul at No 4 but the experiment was shelved after just one attempt.

“The potential that KL Rahul is, it is unfortunate that we are not able to accommodate, so we tried him at the number four slot, and unfortunate that it did not work out. But basically we know that KL Rahul is an opener. So since Ajinkya Rahane has done well, it makes sense to continue with Rahane and bring in a specialist at number four spot,” he said.

With 19 months to go the 2019 World Cup in England, it’s high time India select a group that travels, plays and bonds together for at least a year before the showpiece event. If that should be the aim, India’s selectors and the team management don’t have much time to find the right players at the right places.

First Published: Oct 23, 2017 16:44 IST