New Delhi: Their current form may not inspire confidence, but skipper Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli will be indispensable to the Indian team at the T20 World Cup in Australia, but a change in their batting order could be considered in the side’s favour, say experts .
While IPL is indicative of its current form, the National Selection Committee under Chetan Sharma has no such thoughts even remotely at this point, at least not for the time being.
One point under debate, however, is whether skipper Rohit, his deputy Rahul and team’s first batter Kohli will occupy the top three spots in the batting order in the mega-event, to be played in Australia in October-November.
In the last World T20 their batting order did not yield favorable results and their approach to the top three was lightly criticized as they all used quite similar styles, settling first and then attacking.
Rohit has since changed his approach and has been seen hammer and pliers, although big runs have eluded the India and MI captaincy. Rohit would certainly like to improve on his 155 runs from 9 games with a strike rate of 123.
Kohli’s woeful form has now lasted far too long and 186 runs in 10 games with a low strike rate of 116 is neither indicative of the former skipper’s quality nor his caliber.
Rahul plays the role of an anchor for LSG and with 451 runs at an average of 145, he is in a league of his own.
There is, however, one disturbing piece of statistic that skipper Rohit and coach Rahul Dravid will have to tackle before Team India hits the road with some 15 T20Is lined up for the World Cup.
The trio didn’t exactly set the Powerplay (first six overs) on fire.
In 10 games to date, Rahul has played 55 dots in Powerplay overs and collected a total of 141 of 126 balls in these overs in games with a strike rate of 111.90. In those games in PP overs, he has hit 15 fours and four sixes.
Rohit made 56 points in power plays in 9 games during this period, scoring 136 from 104 balls with a strike rate of 130.76.
In Kohli’s case, he has hit Powerplay in seven games and played 16 point balls, but scored 61 points in 55 balls in that span.
The numbers show they take all three time in the first six overs and maybe even play all three, at least one – preferably Rahul can lower the batting order and allow a little rejig around Rohit and Virat.
So what do the experts think of the trio’s batting order? Former chairman of selectors MSK Prasad and his colleague Devang Gandhi had somewhat different views, while analyst, former India keeper Deep Dasgupta, had a very different view.
“These three are indispensable when they are fit. There’s no way you can leave any of them behind for the World T20. But yeah, looking at numbers I might try someone like Shikhar Dhawan at the opening and look at Rahul at number 4. He has a T20 hundred in Manchester a few years ago, so why not,” Prasad told PTI.
“But yes, I want Virat to take an important break and for the Asian Cup he has to be fresh and up to date,” said Prasad.
For Gandhi, in a big tournament like the T20 World Cup, he doesn’t like to experiment and doesn’t want to rock the boat.
“These are your proven performers and when they play for India it’s completely different from the roles they have for their franchises. Even when we talk about changes, do we need to know who the replacements are? Are they good enough and better than those three in pressure scenario during a match in Pakistan? You have to take that into account,” Gandhi said.
For Dasgupta, T20 is by nature a game that justifies a different philosophy and guiding principles.
“In Tests of ODIs, we normally find players, check them and assign roles accordingly. In T20 you have to do the reverse. You first determine the roles and only then the players.
“They can still play the trio as numbers 1, 2 and 3, but there has to be a specific role that they need to be told long before the tournament,” Dasgupta said.
When asked if a change is needed, Dasgupta feels that Dhawan or Prithvi Shaw should be kept in the lineup and can be tried out if necessary.
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