Only four months are left for the ICC World Cup 2019 to be held in England and Wales from May 30 onwards. Team India go into the tournament as one of the favourites to win the title. The 2015 edition semi-finalists have almost every aspect covered and are seeking the right balance from the vast options available to them.
India are currently involved in a five-match ODI series against New Zealand and they have another nine 50-over matches to get things right ahead of the World Cup. One feature that has been India’s strongest in ODI cricket is the top three in batting. The likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are the pillars of the side.
The three players have enjoyed ominous form with the bat over the last few years and that has contributed towards India’s success in a massive manner. For a team to thrive in this format, you need your top order to be in sync with each other and rake in the scores. India have hit the bull’s eye with these three player on offer.
At the moment, every other side participating in the World Cup, will be jealous of India and the richness they have with these three superstars in the mix. It looks composed and there is a lot of fire in the ranks. Against Australia in the recently concluded ODI series, Kohli and Rohit both struck tons in different matches. Dhawan, who couldn’t quite get along, responded with a fiery 75* against New Zealand.
Looking into the remainder of the series and the matches that await India in this format, we look at how India’s top three batsmen have rarely failed as a batting force.
Consistency and runs have been a major factor
In 2018, Indian captain Kohli struck the most runs in ODI cricket (1,202). Rohit wasn’t far behind. He finished second with a total of 1,030 runs. Dhawan also amassed 897 runs for India. That’s 3,000-plus runs for India by these three alone. It’s a massive statistic that goes into this tally.
India were superb in the ODI series they played last year and continued from where they left off in 2017. Besides the series against England, India won everything else. In 2019, the build-up to the World Cup has continued to go strongly. What has been a striking factor is that all three have been consistent.
They haven’t gone into a lean patch and when needed somebody always delivered the goods. Against South Africa in the 6-1 ODI series victory last year, Kohli was on song. He amassed 558 runs that included three tons. Against England, he amassed two fifties. Against West Indies at home, he struck three successive tons. In Australia, he contributed with the bat and hit a defining ton in Adelaide.
Rohit struggle against South Africa, but he still got a century. Similar thing happened in England as well. But, when the moment had come for him to up the ante, he led India from the front at the Asia Cup 2018. The runs flowed against the Windies as well (two centuries) and he started the series against Australia with a bang.
Dhawan shined in South Africa with 323 runs. He got the starts in England but couldn’t capitalise. His moment arrived in the Asia Cup where he topped the run charts in the series. Against the Windies and the Aussies, he failed to hit a single fifty, but he is back in form after a superb show in Napier.
Their experience and understanding bodes well for India
These three cricketers have not thrown it away in the preparations leading to the World Cup. Most importantly, they know how to come in and stay for a long time at the crease. Kohli in particular is a master in run-chase. He keeps the side afloat till the very end when set. Rohit has the knack of hitting those mega hundreds and usually he bats till the end.
Dhawan knows his role well and is more of the player that wants to start aggressively. His blitz atop helps Rohit to settle down and take his time. Once Rohit settles himself, the boundaries flow. That then helps Kohli to breathe in and focus on rotating the strike more. He doesn’t need to go aerial.
There is this experience that comes into play here. All these three players know their roles well. Moreover, their abundance of runs often gets the job done for India. This takes the pressure off the middle order. One issue why at times the middle order struggled was that many a times the batsmen didn’t get much time in the middle.
Now this was simply because the three kept playing to their strengths.
Rohit has added a total of 4,141 runs with Dhawan in 94 inning. He has added another 4,117 with Kohli in 68 innings. Dhawan and Kohli have put on 2,760 runs from 47 innings together. This is huge from the Indian team’s point of view. The century stands read 13, 15 and eight. These are figures to cherish going into the World Cup where teams will feel the pressure.
Communication is key and that’s helped big time
What the three stalwarts are known for is their strong set of communication. Their running between the wickets have been a trademark of their approach towards ODI cricket. They have been playing for a long time, so it’s a normal thing. Rotating the strike very well often keeps the pressure off. If someone is hitting boundaries from one end, it becomes easy for the batsman at the other.
Going into the World Cup, India will bank on these three and their effective communication process. To get a strong start, India will need to go about their innings smartly and no-one better than these three to understand that. They will also be communicating off the field as well in how to prepare and plan accordingly. India will be aiming to play in the manner that has defined them as a unit of late.
It’s a job of these three to create the momentum for the team that could then benefit the rest of the batsmen in terms of what the situation demands. India have a real chance of winning the ongoing series and enhancing their chances further for the World Cup.