In Stats: SL Game a Chance for India to Solve Combination Problems
Team India will clash with Sri Lanka in the penultimate league stage fixture of the ICC World Cup 2019 on Saturday.
The two teams have clashed in ODIs more often than any other nations in the format and know a lot about each other.
Team India has secured a semi-final berth, while Sri Lanka, who have been eliminated from the race to the semi-finals, will only be playing with the motive of causing an upset and to wind up their WC2019 campaign on a high.
Even if Sri Lanka can claim to hold the edge in contests against India at the World Cup, more recently (and for most part of this decade), Team India have had the wood over their southern neighbours.
Not a Perfect Campaign for Team India
Despite qualifying for the semi-final, Team India’s World Cup 2019 campaign is far from perfect. There are several questions for which Team India is still searching for answers in their bid to turn in the complete performance.
The final league match against Sri Lanka provides Team India an opportunity to find ways to mend and find tune all the problem areas. Most of the questions about the combination are inter-connected, and hence Team India management need to start right at the top.
- Is the team management considering breaking up the opening combination of KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma, and instead bring in a specialist opener in Mayank Agarwal?
- If they decide the change up the opening combination, then is KL Rahul the best batsman to be slotted in at number four?
- Aren’t Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya players of similar temperament? Why is the team management persisting with two players ideally suited for the number six or number seven position, and using one of them at number four?
- What about Dinesh Karthik? What is his role in the batting line-up?
- What about Kuldeep Yadav’s form and confidence? The left-arm wrist spinner was dropped from the side for the previous match against Bangladesh. Is he in the team’s plans for the knockout games? What if India happen to play England in the semi-finals? It was after the match against England – when he conceded 72 runs in his 10 overs – that Kuldeep got dropped from the side.
- What about Ravindra Jadeja? Is he in the squad only to be substitute fielder?
Virat Kohli Due
Except the opening match against South Africa, Virat Kohli has batted beautifully every other time he has walked to the crease. However, the one thing that is being unreasonably held against him – by a large section of fans and a handful of experts alike – is that he has not made a three-figure score yet. It is being held against Kohli that in a line-up where the middle-order isn’t firing, Kohli should be batting longer and converting his 50s to three-figure scores. Why the fascination with a hundred?
That is an extremely unreasonable expectation, for Kohli has scored a good number of runs and those runs have generally resulted in India wins. Why is there the expectation that he will score a hundred every time he walks out to bat? He isn’t a machine, right? Also, why are there expectations on Kohli (to score a hundred) and Rohit Sharma (to score a double hundred) alone? Aren’t there other capable batsmen in the team?
On Saturday, Virat Kohli will be up against his favourite opposition; his punching bag even.
Even if Virat Kohli doesn’t get a hundred on Saturday, but gets the classiest 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s – and contributes to an Indian win – I’ll take that gladly.
Some of the valuable non-100 knocks by Indian batsmen in ODIs
- Kris Srikkanth’s 38 (v Pak) in the World Cup Final, 1983
- Yuvraj Singh’s 84 (v Aus) in the ICC Knockout Quarter-Final, 2000
- Navjot Sidhu’s 93 (v Pak) in the World Cup Quarter-Final, 1996
- Sachin Tendulkar’s 98 (v Pak) in the World Cup, 2003
- Gautam Gambhir’s 97 (v SL) in the World Cup Final, 2011
100s are man-made milestones. For cricketers, there are man-made milestones, and other milestones – such as contributing to important wins, scoring the winning runs, remaining not out when the win was achieved, so on and so forth. The latter kind are the more satisfying ones. I hope the cricket loving public learn to appreciate the ‘other’ kind of milestones too.
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