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Onus on India's batsmen in Hamilton ODI

Last updated on: January 21, 2014 14:31 IST

Onus on India's batsmen in Hamilton ODI



Having lost the first match on Sunday, India will look to go level when they face New Zealand in the second One-Day International in Hamilton on Wednesday.

New Zealand to play aggressive cricket against India

India’s batting lacked thought and their reliance on Virat Kohli has exposed a few loopholes. The tourists will have to right their mistakes and hope the middle-order fires.

Suresh Raina's form is a big concern, while openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have not given India the flourishing start expected from them.

Also, India's bowling will have to be a lot sharper in the coming matches given that the home batsmen negotiated the visiting attack without much difficulty in the series-opener.

With pacer Ishant Sharma and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin not making much of an impression, it remains to be seen whether the team management will consider making changes to the bowling line-up.

Image: MS Dhoni of India leaves the field after being dismissed during the first One Day International match against New Zealand at McLean Park in Napier on Sunday
Photographs: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images


Too much dependence on Kohli

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At Seddon Park on Wednesday, the visitors will hope for an encore from Kohli and better contributions from others.

It is no secret that the team's fortunes are heavily dependent on Kohli's batting. His hundred in the first ODI was his 18th overall in just 126 matches, with another 28 fifties to boot.

It is important to note that out of the 46 times he scored a half-century or more, India finished victorious in 32 matches.

Furthermore, in 24 games out of this small set, the team batted second and Kohli's affinity for run-chases is only too well-known. He scored his 12th hundred in an ODI chase on Sunday, 11 of which in the past resulted in victories.

The worrying bit in these statistics is that 14 of those 32 victories -- inclusive of nine hundreds by Kohli -- for India have come in the last two years, while the other 18 were recorded in his first four years of playing ODI cricket since he made his debut in August 2008.

This highlights the ever-increasing dependency of the batting line-up on Kohli, and with just a year to go for the ODI World Cup in Australia-New Zealand it is worrisome.

Image: Virat Kohli
Photographs: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

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Out-of-form Dhawan, Rohit putting pressure on middle order

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India’s worries begin at the top of the order. Rohit Sharma's scores in three ODIs in South Africa and New Zealand, so far, have been 18, 19 and 3.

Shikhar Dhawan's scores in the same matches were 12, 0 and 32. Their best partnership during this time was 15 runs, put up in Napier, while together they scored 14 and 10 in Johannesburg and Durban.

India lost all three matches.

Compare this with their brilliant run last year until the West Indies series at home when they put up 1247 runs in 22 matches, at an average of 59.38, helping the team win on 16 instances.

Their partnership was brightest in the 2013 Champions Trophy, in England, when they scored 127, 101, 58, 77 and 19 in five matches.

Their bad form heaps the onus on Kohli and, in turn, puts greater pressure on the middle order.

This is where the problem gets compounded, since the number four and five batsmen haven't really contributed much to the Indian cause.

Image: Shikhar Dhawan of India bats
Photographs: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

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Raina, lower middle-order need to do away with inconsistencies

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Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was vocal about this aspect after India’s defeat in the first ODI on Sunday, blaming the middle order for "inconsistency" and affecting the lower middle order's ability to chase down targets.

The team's think-tank has experimented with quite a few names for the middle order in 2013, especially at number four and five, with Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay, Kohli and Dhoni having batted there.

The first five names have featured most regularly in the middle order (Vijay batted lower down for the injured Dhoni in West Indies) and from among them the highest individual score contributed throughout 2013 was 89 not out by Raina against England way back in January 2013.

Since then, his form has deteriorated for the worse with only 770 runs in 34 matches at an average of 35.

Karthik (255 runs in 15 matches at 31.87) was dropped after some ordinary outings in West Indies and Zimbabwe, and Yuvraj Singh (276 runs in 18 matches at 19.71) struggled on either side of the Champions Trophy, failing in his two comebacks within one calendar year.

These three batsmen have been the major culprits for a poor showing by the middle order, with Rahane (113 runs at 18.83) and Rayudu (101 runs at 50.50) been handed a limited-run so far.

For a long time, the Indian team management has been worrying about its bowling resources in the limited-overs format but they need to focus on finding batsmen who can contribute to the team's cause, particularly with the World Cup in 12 months' time.

Image: Suresh Raina of India
Photographs: Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images

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Mills could replace Milne in New Zealand squad

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Meanwhile, for Brendon McCullum, there are fewer worries having taken an early lead in the series. If at all, they need only to focus on not taking the visitors lightly, who, on paper at least, are a much stronger unit than the hosts.

The more pressing concern is about replacing 21-year-old fast bowler Adam Milne in the playing eleven after he was sidelined for the rest of the series with a torn abdominal muscle.

While 26-year-old medium pacer Hamish Bennett has taken his place in the squad, Kyle Mills is expected to play instead.

Hamilton has witnessed consistent rain for the two days leading up to this second ODI and pitch curator Andrew Brown believes that "the under-cover pitch will have something in it for the bowlers".

He was also of the opinion that should the rain stay away on Wednesday, there is every chance that batsmen will make merry, much like the last ODI played at the venue, when the West Indies scored 363 for 4 in 50 overs.

Team India will be hoping for the latter, both from the weather and its much vaunted batsmen.

Teams (from):

India: MS Dhoni (captain & wicketkeeper), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Stuart Binny, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishwar Pandey, Varun Aaron, Amit Mishra.

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (captain), Corey Anderson, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi (wicketkeeper), Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Hamish Bennett.

Match starts: 6.30 am

Image: Kyle Mills of New Zealand celebrates the wicket of Narsingh Deonarine of the West Indies
Photographs: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

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