While Team India is basking in the glory of sealing a historic series win in South Africa, there is absolutely no denying the fact that the team management will not be very happy. The reason for the same is India’s constant struggles to finish the innings strongly.
Under Virat Kohli’s captaincy, the team has done exceedingly well but throughout his captaincy, the middle-order has looked far from being settled. Ever since Kohli took the captaincy in January last year, the middle-order has been subject to constant chopping and experimentation. But the result of the constant experimentation is yet to yield a desirable result.
The failure to finish off strongly with the bat has been on full show in the ongoing series against South Africa. On Tuesday (February 13), India defeated South Africa by 73 runs to take a 4-1 lead and win their first-ever bilateral ODI series on the South African soil. However, the middle-order failed to impress once again and as a result, India ended the innings with the bat on a dismal note.
At one stage when the scoreboard was reading 236 for 3, the team was looking well to post in excess of 300. However, once a settled Rohit Sharma was dismissed, the following batsmen failed to capitalize on the platform. Despite being in such a strong position, India could score only 55 runs in the final 10 overs. It did not happen in the fifth ODI only. In the fourth ODI, India were 230 for 4 with MS Dhoni and Shreyas Iyer at the crease. However, they could score only 59 runs in the last ten and ended up losing the game.
With just over a year remaining for the next World Cup, the constant failures to finish off strongly are enough to give the team-management sleepless nights. In Kohli, India has got a captain who will never shy away from taking bold calls and one can expect him to act sooner rather than later to solve this problem.
Solution to India’s problem in last ten overs:
There are few ways which can put an end to India’s woes towards the end. There is absolutely no denying that MS Dhoni is one of the best finishers the game has ever witnessed. But at the same time, one cannot also not deny that the 36-year old is well past his prime. In the last ODI, he scored 13 off 17 when the team was in dire need of some quick runs. In fact, the former India skipper has struggled to set the ground ablaze for quite some time now.
He has made a habit of eating up the ball at the start and going for the big shots only after playing at least 20-30 balls. As a result, the team has suffered to finish the innings in a desirable manner. So one way to solve the finishing woes is to promote Dhoni in the batting order. The best position at the time being for Dhoni would be number four.
The number four position is the link between the top-order and the lower middle-order and the right man needs to occupy it in order to keep the balance of the playing XI intact. However, India has failed to get a suitable player for that important position. Ajinkya Rahane has been tried at the position in the ongoing series but he has failed to perform well. In such a case, Dhoni can be promoted to that batting position. The 36-year old’s current game is tailor-made for that position and it will augur well with the team’s demands.
Give Pandya the license to go for the kill:
With Dhoni promoted, the team should pin its hopes on Hardik Pandya. The hard-hitting all-rounder has failed to get going in the ongoing series but it is well known that he has the ability to do the job for the team. His performance in the second half of last year was so impressive that he cemented his spot across formats. Writing him off after just one bad series does not make much sense and the onus should be put on him to finish the games strongly.
The likes of Kedar Jadhav and Shreyas Iyer are yet to leave a mark and Pandya looks the only safe bet. Another option can be to bring in Suresh Raina. However, giving the current players an extended run looks the better option at the moment.