Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

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Team India are all set to announce their final squad for the 2023 ODI World Cup on Thursday. Having completed all their assignment in preparation for the big tournament at home, with a 2-1 series win against Australia on Thursday, albeit which ended with a loss in Rajkot, India have ticked most, if not all, the boxes for the World Cup. However, there seems to be only one selection headache, solely pertaining to the playing XI, which has troubled most veterans and experts and hogged the space in every talk shows – what will be India’s middle-order line-up. As the battle between Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan has intensified with all having rightfully proven their worth to be in the squad, batting legend Virender Sehwag and former India cricketer Rohan Gavaskar have given their verdict on the possible line-up for the 50-over event which begins from October 5 onwards.

India's Suryakumar Yadav walks back to the pavilion after his dismissal during the first ODI vs Australia(AFP)
India’s Suryakumar Yadav walks back to the pavilion after his dismissal during the first ODI vs Australia(AFP)

Iyer and Suryakumar were among the lasts to have ticked the box for the World Cup with the former having scored a stellar ton in the second ODI match against Australia while the latter smashed back-to-back fifties in the series with the second being a career-best 72*, scored off just 37 balls.

Meanwhile, Ishan proved his worth with a fourth consecutive fifty in the Asia Cup tie against Pakistan en route to a stunning 82 which came after an early top-order collapse. The knock had sparked debate on whether Ishan should become India’s primary wicketkeeping choice given that he also brings variety to line-up with his left-handed batting ability, but Rahul shut the talk with a ton against Pakistan in Super Four stage of Asia Cup followed by two fifties against Australia.

Iyer vs Suryakumar vs Rahul vs Ishan – What will be India’s middle-order line-up for World Cup?

Speaking to Cricbuzz, Sehwag opined that Iyer has confirmed his spot as a No.4 with that knock of 105 against Australia in Indore, hence forming the middle-order lineup with Rahul at No. 5 and Hardik at No. 6.

“At No. 6 and 7 KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya will be there. So Suryakumar won’t be there at either of those positions. There is No. 5 though. But if Hardik Pandya is your sixth bowler then Rahul will bat at No. 5, and Hardik at No. 6, then comes the bowlers. We thought Ishan Kishan could fit in somewhere in the line-up, but that hundred which Shreyas Iyer scored, if he plays at No. 4 then it will be Iyer, Rahul and Hardik at No. 4, 5 and 6 respectively,” he said.

Sehwag, however, raised the question on Hardik’s ability to delivery 10 overs for India as a bowler, explaining that it will play a huge role in deciding what the middle-order will be India as well. He further added in case a spot does open up, Ishan should be picked ahead of Suryakumar owing to his left-handed ability.

“Now it depends on how India look at this combination, whether they feel Hardik will certainly bowl 10 overs because that will give India an extra bowler. So then Suryakumar cannot fit in there and even if there is a slot, then Ishan should be picked ahead because he is a left-hander which had happened in Asia Cup,” he added.

When further questioned on Suryakumar’s place in XI, the former India opener said that the batter hasn’t yet show his true abilities in the format. And in case he does get an opportunity, probably in the two warm-up matches, then he has to score a big hundred to cause a further selection headache.

“Suryakumar hasn’t done anything big yet in ODI cricket. He only bats in those final 15-20 overs where he utilises his T20 abilities which undoubtedly is important as well. But Hardik, Ishan and Rahul can all do that same job as well. So Iyer is confirmed for No. 4. Suraykumar will have to wait and if he does get a chance at No. 4 he has to score a big hundred and show that he can also score a ton as well,” he said.

Rohan Gavaskar, who was part of the same panel, added to Sehwag’s thoughts by warning the management to not make any last-minute changes to the line-up, pointing towards head coach Rahul Dravid’s recent revelation. Dravid had said that Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Rahul were India’s confirmed middle-order batters 18 months back before an unfortunate turn of events forced India to look at alternatives.

“I had read that Dravid said Iyer, Pant and Rahul were India’s middle-order lineup. If that is true, making a last-minute change will only show that the management has panicked. The change would have happened had Iyer not been in form. But with that hundred, why make the change,” he said.

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