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Do India have the batting power for the World Cup?

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With the World Cup coming sharply into view, time is all but up for teams to make serious adjustments to their plans. We’re into a period of fine tuning. India, tournament favourites along with the hosts, England, have been putting the finishing touches to their preparations. In what looks set to be an aggressive tournament from a batting perspective, do India have the firepower to win their third World Cup?

The top three

This is the most dangerous aspect of India’s batting. Coming in first drop, captain Virat Kohli is the greatest ODI batsman of all time. In this cycle (since the end of the last World Cup), he has 3996 runs at an average of 79.92, including 17 centuries. No one comes close. Except, perhaps, Rohit Sharma and his 3,588 runs at 62.94 and 15 centuries. He may consistently and somewhat bafflingly fail in Test cricket, but Sharma is a leading light in the ODI game. His opening partner, Shikhar Dhawan, is no mug either.

This is the settled engine room of India’s ODI machine.

The middle order

This is where the picture becomes a little less clear. India haven’t found their ideal number four, although Ambati Rayudu is the man in possession and has enjoyed a reasonable time of things during India’s 4-1 series win in New Zealand, top scoring with 190 runs in the series. He averages 61 in this cycle, but from only 25 games. He has been a bit in and out of the side but has played in the last seven ODIs. Dinesh Karthik provides the competition.

It’s then on to a far more familiar face in the form of MS Dhoni. A man of his advancing years comes under severe scrutiny during any downturn in form, but he went someway to answering his critics with a couple of stellar performances in Australia in January. He’s India’s fourth top scorer in this cycle.

Positions six and seven are then a little unclear. Vijay Shankar batted six in Wellington, having made his debut in Australia, but this is, to date, his only innings with the bat. He bowls right-arm medium and India are clearly eyeing him up as a horses for courses selection in the all-rounder’s berth for a tournament in England.

Kedhar Jadhav appears likely to appear in some capacity in the lower middle order. He bowls some very handy off spin and has 982 runs at 44.64 in this cycle. He will likely bat ahead of the explosive batting of Hardik Pandya, who is more of a bowling all-rounder as things stand, but has the healthiest strike rate (116.58) of any Indian in this cycle to have played more than five games.

The bowlers

This is where India look likely to struggle compared to some of the competition. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has a handy record with the bat, but his average of 21 in this cycle is inflated by a 53 not out in his total of 315 runs. His strike rate of 71.42 is weak, too. Jasprit Bumrah, a certain starter if fit, is a stonewall number 11, although if India are relying on him, it will already be too late. Kuldeep Yadhav and Yuzvendra Chahal are the other spin options down the order, with Mohammed Shami looking likely to be considered in the seam spot. None of these are quality batsmen down the order in the way that England have firepower provided by the likes of Liam Plunkett, David Willey and Adil Rashid.

But – and this is quite important – these bowlers are better bowlers than their counterparts. India have genuine variety and a plethora of options in attack. Ravi Ashwin hasn’t put on a blue shirt in over a year and Ravindra Jadeja has played his way back into contention with some sterling work in Australia. He is a more than useful batsman.

So, will India opt for superior bowling options, or compromise slightly in the pursuit of batting depth by opting for Jadeja ahead of Kuldeep or Chahal? It’s not a question England have to ask themselves, but will India make the right choice?

“As far as our chances are concerned, I will not hesitate in saying that we are the favourites,” Sachin Tendulkar told PTI. “I have gone on record saying that we have a perfect balance in the team where we will be competitive in any part of the world or on any surface.” The confidence is there and justifiably so.

India certainly have the top order and the bowlers to succeed – although any injury or loss of form suffered by Kohli would render them almost uncompetitive (he’s just that good) – but the middle order is undoubtedly a concern. Whereas early wickets aren’t so harmful to England, they could decimate India. The drop off in averages and strike rates away from their top three is marked, whereas England are capable of carrying on the most vicious of assaults.

The game plan to beat India? Get early wickets. It’s as simple and as difficult as that! If you can keep Kohli quiet, you will keep India quiet. Good luck with that, though.

posted May 6 by Reshmi S

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Arguably one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the 12th edition of the ICC World Cup is set to enthrall cricket enthusiasts when it kickstarts from 30th May, pitting the likes of hosts England and exciting South Africa against each other. Over a span of 45 days and across 48 scintillating contests, the ICC mega event is expected to bring the best of the participating nations in what promises to be an exciting affair.

But, the World Cup isn't just about winning the coveted trophy. In fact, cricket's biggest tournament has a history of bringing exciting contests, fiery duels and individual brilliances to the fore. And, this year promises to be no different.

From the top wicket-takers to leading run-scorers, the upcoming ICC tournament has had the cricket fans wondering who'd claim the top honours in individual performances. While we will discuss the wicket-taking heroes in another article, let's discuss the probables for the batting honours this year.

When it comes to scoring most runs in the World Cups, no one comes close to the legendary Sachin Tendulkar who scored 2,278 runs across six tournaments he played. Though Tendulkar's record will take some doing, but the current batting geniuses of the game will surely be eager to make a mark at the biggest stage.

Going purely by numbers, here's a look at five batsmen who might be seen ruling the charts in the list of leading run-getters at the World Cup this year.

Virat Kohli

Undeniably one of best batsmen in the world right now, Virat Kohli will be the key to India's charge at this year's World Cup. The Indian captain needs no introduction to batting and the fact that, at the age of 30, he has already slammed 41 ODI hundreds - only behind Tendulkar's tally of 49 tons, shows how special and consistent this lad is.

But, that's not all. Kohli is going into the World Cup with a formidable form and, for someone who takes a special liking to big events, he is surely expected to reign supreme in England and Wales. To back that claim with numbers, Kohli has scored 4,306 runs at an average of 78.29 - most by any batsmen in ODIs since the World Cup in 2015.

While it's really hard to predict whether he'll actually emerge as the leading run-scorer at the upcoming event, the numbers surely tip him as one of the favourites. And, given his artistry with the willow, we might end up seeing a Kohli special this year.

Rohit Sharma

One of the most devastating openers in limited-overs cricket, Rohit Sharma, having begun his career as a middle-order batsman, found his true calling at the top of the order. A preferred opener by the Indian team management, Rohit has made the opening spot his own on the back of spectacular performances in white-ball cricket.

His malleable wrists and knack to find the gaps have all added to his batting masterclass which continues to evolve over the years. Just like his skipper Kohli, Rohit will also be one of the vital cogs in India's dreams of lifting their third World Cup trophy this year. Since the 2015 edition of the World Cup, Rohit has amassed 3,790 ODI runs at an average of 61.12 - only behind Kohli in the elite list.

His last stint in England saw him smashing an unbeaten 137 in the first ODI in Nottingham - something that should bolster his confidence going into the World Cup. The right-handed batsman is coming off a title-winning season with Mumbai Indians who lifted a record fourth IPL trophy this season. While there is no doubt over Rohit's abilities, the Indian opener will need convert his starts into big figures if he intends to challenge other batsmen for the top batting honours at the World Cup.

Joe Root

For someone who was tipped as a future England captain at the age of 23, Joe Root has not only lived up to the billing, but has also successfully managed to rally his troops in the build-up to the World Cup at home. Rated amongst the top batsmen in the world, Root, on his day, is more than capable of running away with the game.

At this year's World Cup, Root will surely be a key player, providing the much-needed stability to their batting line-up. If playing at home doesn't strengthen his case, the fact that Root has slammed 3,498 runs at an average of 58.30 in ODIs (since the 2015 World Cup) further makes a probable candidate for the top batting honours in the upcoming event.

The right-handed batsman will be seen leading England's charge at the ICC spectacle, but while his leadership skills will be put to test, Root's batting might cannot be questioned.

Eoin Morgan

One of the batting mainstays for England over the years, Eoin Morgan will once again be seen stabilising the innings for his side while plying his trade in the middle-order. The left-handed batsman has all the experience he needs to make this event his own and playing in familiar conditions further helps his cause.

Predictions apart, according to the numbers, believe it or not, Morgan is placed fourth in the list of leading run-scorers in ODIs since the 2015 World Cup. The left-hander has scored 3,039 runs at an average of 46.75 - something that surely makes him one of the probables for the top batting honours at the World Cup this year.

For those who need more than just numbers to believe his batting might, Morgan, recently, broke a roof tile with a huge six during the fifth ODI between England against Pakistan at Headingley. How's that for intent?

Quinton de Kock

A sweet timer of the ball who thrives on his fearless striking abilities, Quinton de Kock has established himself as South Africa's preferred opening batsman over the years. The left-handed batsman, who grew up as a baseball player, can take on any opposition bowling attack and give them a run for their money with his brutal hitting.

De Kock goes into this year's World Cup with 2,971 runs at an average of 50.33 in ODIs. There's no surprise to see him at the fifth spot in the list of top run-getters in the 50-over format since the 2015 edition of the World Cup. To put things in perspective, De Kock has amassed 353 runs, including three fifties and a hundred, in his last five ODI innings.

Given the conditions, De Kock is likely to cherish the challenge and tear into the opposition bowling attack. His success with the willow will be key to South Africa's hopes of getting rid of the 'chokers' tag and clinch their maiden World Cup title this year.

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Explaining his reasons for backing India, Ashwin said the team’s batting line-up is in great shape currently and the overall setup of the team is also balanced.


“India are the favourites because look at the batting that we have. Top three we have Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli. Rohit and Virat are two of the best batsmen in the world. The way Virat paces his innings and the kind of firepower that Rohit has, he is one of those batsman who can change gears any time,” he said at the Salaam Cricket 2019 event. 

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He further said that looking at it from a long shot, the balance in terms of pace, spin and the batting prowess should help India go far in the tournament. He also MS Dhoni’s calming influence on the young team will also be very essential if India has to do well. 

“Hardik Pandya has emerged as a great player, MS Dhoni is the calming influence in the middle order. Then the likes of Bumrah at the death and with the new ball. The two wrist-spinners as well,” he added, counting India’s positives. 

India will play its opening match of the World Cup against South Africa at the Rose Bowl, Southampton, while hosts England have already had a great start to their tournament with a comprehensive win over the Proteas.
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