ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2019
Will Dinesh Karthik be the panacea to India’s middle-order issue? © Getty
When Pat Cummins hit Shikhar Dhawan, little did one feel what the ramifications of what seemed an innocuous little incident could be. Dhawan was back after a few sprays to get himself a hundred. The days following that have been ones that have probably made the importance of Dhawan in this Indian line-up all the more prominent.
His absence will, at the least, tamper with their batting template, reopen previously answered questions (think No. 4) and throw open newer ones (chance for Pant to come in?).
First up, KL Rahul moves back up to the top of the order, as Sanjay Bangar confirmed. He’s this team’s man for all positions, and something that is not lost on the team management. Bangar even likened him to the other Rahul (Dravid) who had done similar things for teams before. And stressed that this could be advantageous for Rahul [KL].
“The advantages of playing in various situations is that you understand the game a lot better. So if you’re batting in the middle order and if you’re a top order and you get to bat in the middle order, then you get to know the challenges faced by the middle order. So if a player is able to do that — and if you look across the history of the game, players have been very versatile, and here if you can take his namesake Rahul Dravid back at the various positions, actually, it helped the team big time,” said Bangar.
It’d make KL, a more complete batsman felt Bangar.
“It also helps that usually you understand the game a lot better. If you’re batting in the middle order and suddenly you go and bat in the top order, then you know how challenging it can be, wherein you need to negotiate two new balls, but you also understand that there are all these boundary opportunities. There are a lot of big gaps out there in the field, and if you’re in the top order batting in the middle order, you suddenly understand, okay, the balls which you would have hit for four in the first 10 or 12 overs, you only get a single.
“So it’s a mental adjustment, and any player who is able to do that requires a lot of skill, but ultimately it will enhance the position that he will bat in, and it will help the team’s cause big time,” he said.
And while we wait to see if KL’s move up pans out like Bangar envisions, questions abound about that No. 4 position again. And for those still unclear, no, Rishabh Pant is not an option. He’s on standby and will get time to acclimatise while Dhawan is assessed over the next two weeks. That leaves us with two options – Vijay Shankar (who was the first to have a net on a drizzly Wednesday afternoon) and Dinesh Karthik, who had an equally long if not longer ‘net’. Whether that’s the priority order come game-time is anyone’s guess. But given the weather that’s been predicted at Nottingham, Shankar’s medium-pace could also be a worthwhile option.
“Obviously, Vijay Shankar is going to be an option, and there are a couple of others as well,” was all Bangar would concede. Thursday will reveal what the team management has up its sleeve.
A tightly wound spring has come uncoiled. There are answers to be found over the next few games including if an all-right top half in the batting order will be alright.