Cricket / ms dhoni
India's middle order needs to start winning matches
In limited overs cricket, India has been dominating for a long time now. They are numero uno in the test rankings, and are ranked number two in both ODIs and t20s. As far as limited overs cricket is concerned, the main contributing factors have been India's top order in batting, Bumrah and the wrist spinners in the bowling department. There is a trend we have been seeing in the last 2-3 years, our batting is over dependent on the top 3. Rohit, Shikhar, and Virat have been phenomenal and there is no doubt to the fact that they have carried the team's batting on their shoulders. Virat averaged a freakish 133 in the year 2018, and Rohit and Shikhar were around 73 and 50 respectively. While that is a great sight from India's perspective, it also signified the incompetency of the middle order. One of the problems with middle order is that they have been playing musical chair with the number 4 and number 6 spot, with Dhoni slotted in between them. They started the year with Ajinkya Rahane in South Africa at number 4, and over the year, tried various players like Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Kartik, KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Rishab Pant, although it seems like they had found an ideal candidate in Ambati Rayudu by the end of Windies series. Even at number 6, with injuries to Kedar Jhadav, India did try some of the players mentioned above. So, in a situation where the top order fails, they are left wanting. Something like that happened in the first ODI against Australia, where Shikhar, Virat and Rayudu were back to the pavilion in no time, and Rohit Sharma nearly carried India through. The batsmen in line for the middle order spots are Rayudu, Kartik, Dhoni, Pant, and Jhadav. Most of them have decent finishing abilities and they need to revolve around Dhoni to not only make meagre contributions, but win matches on their own if the top order gets blown off. Rayudu and Jhadav seem to be the men who might eventually make the two vacant spots their own once India set their feet in England. As far as Dhoni is concerned, he desperately needs to deliver as Rishab Pant is breathing down his neck big time after his exploits in the test series Down Under. He needs to improve his strike rate considerably as the pitches in England are likely to be high scoring. We, as fans want Dhoni to get his finishing abilities back on track as we want him to hit the World Cup winning six, for one final time.
India, Windies and the two poles of World Cup preparation
What plans do India have for Dhoni, the ODI batsman? © Getty It's a tale of two realities. Testing the strength of your bench is validation of the ample resources available, as is the case with India. They are working with various permutations and combinations from a vast pool, staring at the larger picture, that is, the World Cup 2019. On the other side is the Windies, who've had to make do with the best of 'available' resources for the five-match ODI series against India, staring Sunday (October 21). It has been a hard few years for Windies cricket; the management debacle has had a proportionate impact on not just competency, but even the talent pool coming through. And with established players opting out of central contracts, the situation only gets murkier.To make matters worse, the stepping down of coach Stuart Law - the India tour being his penultimate assignment - has heightened the sense of instability. Law's stay with Windes will be cut short by two games due to a suspension that forces him to miss the first two ODIs of the India series due to a breach of ICC's code of conduct. While Windies are powerless against circumstance and lacking in choice, the choice of plenty has forced India into thinking. They have rested and rotated players the last couple of series to have their best squad picked for the Australia tour, which will be their penultimate touring assignment before the World Cup. That said, there remains uncertainty in a few roles and spots. The primary of that being, the role of MS Dhoni and youngster Rishabh Pant, who has earned his maiden one-day call-up, ahead of Dinesh Karthik. While Pant stole the spotlight with exceptional form in the Tests, Karthik had done little wrong since his recall last July, scoring 350 runs in 13 innings, averaging 50. Dhoni, until the World Cup at least, isn't going anywhere. His wicketkeeping skills and astute tactical nous are irreplaceable assets. However, his batting, more precisely his abilities as a finisher have waned in the recent past and that brings Pant into the dialogue, who could now be slot in purely as a pure batsman/finisher. While Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are arguably the best top-three in the world, the middle order is unsettled, with the spotlight still remaining on the moot No.4 slot. Ambati Rayudu will in all certainty pip Manish Pandey in the reckoning, and battle it out with KL Rahul after having had a decent outing in the Asia Cup here he played six innings for 175 runs, averaging 43.75. Ravindra Jadeja has been the beneficiary of untimely injuries to Axar Patel and Hardik Pandya, adding another name to the mix for World Cup contention. Before the Asia Cup, Jadeja had last played an ODI in July 2017. Now, he has all but sealed his spot in the team as the finger-spinning all-rounder, in case India need to change course from the overtly growing line of thought of wrist spinners' success in limited-overs. Umesh Yadav, who was named Shardul Thakur's replacement following his abductor tendon injury, and who also earned Kohli's endorsement for the Australia series, could just as well stake his claim for a World Cup spot. That said, in comparison to their opponents, India have largely positive problems. But conflict between the BCCI and local associations have caused unwanted distractions. The second ODI that was initially slotted to be played in Indore, was moved to Visakhapatnam owing to dispute over complementary tickets. Even the fourth ODI of the series in Mumbai, was moved from the Wankhede to the Brabourne Stadium which last hosted an international game in 2009. Ninth-ranked Windies lost their last ODI assignment at home 2-1 to Bangladesh. They have a different set-up since then, but the challenges remain familiar. As for India, it's not an opportunity to prove their dominance; if anything, they're eyeing
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