Team India is on the verge of unveiling its final squad for the 2023 ODI World Cup. Having completed their preparations with a series win against Australia, there’s only one lingering question: who will make up India’s middle-order lineup? The competition among Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul, and Ishan Kishan has reached its peak, leaving experts like Virender Sehwag and Rohan Gavaskar to offer their insights.
Iyer and Suryakumar secured their World Cup spots impressively. Iyer’s century against Australia and Suryakumar’s back-to-back fifties solidified their positions. Ishan, on the other hand, showcased his prowess with four consecutive fifties, including a remarkable 82 against Pakistan, raising questions about his role as the primary wicketkeeper.
Rahul also silenced critics with a ton against Pakistan and two fifties against Australia. According to Sehwag, Iyer has locked in the No. 4 spot, with Rahul at No. 5 and Hardik at No. 6.
Sehwag made an exclusive statement: “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”
“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.”
However, concerns linger about Hardik’s ability to bowl 10 overs, which could impact the middle-order composition. If Hardik can’t provide those overs, Ishan, with his left-handed batting, might be preferred over Suryakumar. Sehwag noted that Suryakumar hasn’t showcased his full potential in ODIs yet, often batting in the final 15-20 overs, a role that others can also fulfill.
Iyer’s century firmly establishes him at No. 4, leaving Suryakumar in a waiting game. If he gets an opportunity, he must score a substantial hundred to stake his claim. Rohan Gavaskar echoed Sehwag’s sentiments, cautioning against last-minute lineup changes. Rahul Dravid had previously identified Iyer, Pant, and Rahul as India’s middle-order batsmen, and Gavaskar argued that altering this plan would indicate panic within the management.
Iyer’s century solidified his place, making last-minute changes unnecessary. As India’s World Cup squad is about to be revealed, the middle-order conundrum remains. While Iyer’s century has seemingly cemented his spot, the final lineup decision will depend on Hardik’s ability to contribute as a bowler and Suryakumar’s performance in the warm-up matches. Ultimately, the goal is to assemble a well-rounded team capable of competing at the highest level in the 2023 ODI World Cup.