Time to revamp India's batting order in one-dayers?
Last week, I wrote briefly about why I thought Dhoni was batting at the wrong position
. As the series progressed, it struck me that the Indian batting order was quite imbalanced. Woolmer's views
on Tendulkar and Sehwag trying to outscore each other made me wonder about an alternate batting order, possibly more balanced than the current one.
Assuming Ganguly is playing, the order currently reads: Sehwag, Tendulkar, Dhoni, Ganguly, Dravid, Yuvraj & Kaif. Dhoni only came in at #3 in the second game, but since the team has continued with him there, I assume that he would bat at that position in the future as well. However, the top three are players with the ability to really belt the ball. Make that top four when Ganguly is in form. Kaif and Dravid cannot slog while Yuvraj can. So, if by some chance India entered the 44th over or so with Dravid and Kaif at the crease, it'd be a bonus if they scored at 8-9 an over.
So I came up with two alternate batting orders. The first one reads Sehwag, Dhoni, Ganguly, Tendulkar, Dravid, Kaif & Yuvraj while the second one is Sehwag, Ganguly, Kaif, Tendulkar, Dravid, Yuvraj & Dhoni.
Essentially in the first scenario, Dhoni goes in to open while Tendulkar moves to #4 while Kaif and Yuvraj swap places. This order more or less guarantees an electric start, not that common nowadays with Tendulkar rarely
providing the exhilaration he used to. I do not really see too much value in Tendulkar opening the innings. If he is not going to bat explosively, I'd rather have him bat in the middle order during the boring stages of the game where he can score lots of singles. Yuvraj and Kaif swap places simply because Kaif cannot score rapidly for nuts.
Some hunting around indicates that since he made his debut, there've only been 3 occasions when he has scored more than 25 runs at a strike rate well over 100, the famous NatWest Series final
, against West Indies in 2002
and against Kenya in the ICC Champions Trophy last year
. I'm going to exclude that last knock. So it has been nearly two and a half years since Kaif contributed any sort of a decent slog. Add in his inconsistency
and obviously he is either batting at the wrong position or in the wrong team.
In the second option, Ganguly would open along with Sehwag. Ganguly's ability as a one-day opener is beyond debate. As far as I remember, he and Sehwag were doing a pretty decent job, especially during 2002. But Tendulkar "preferred" opening and that is what ended up happening. Ganguly has never really been secretive of his preference to open in one-dayers. Perhaps that is the break he needs to get his form back. Kaif would bat at #3 because his batting style is more suited to bat in the top order. If he hangs around till the 35th over or so, he would have squeezed in a lot of singles and twos, which would really impact the total. He has been successful batting higher up in the order, especially during the 2003 World Cup, in crucial situations against Pakistan
and New Zealand
The rest of the order pretty much falls into place, with Yuvraj and Dhoni responsible for the slog overs. It is perhaps an indicator of the kind of form Dravid and Sehwag are in that they're the only two who haven't been moved around from their normal batting slots.
In fact, I'd suggest that every 4-5 games, Yuvraj and Kaif must be made to bat at #3, #4 and #5 because these are obviously the key batting positions in the middle order. If these two, along with Sehwag, are to form the core of India's batting once Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman quit, they must have the experience of batting in all sorts of situations. After all, it is but natural that they will occupy those batting slots 2-3 years from now.
Oh, and when it comes to the bowling, I think its time Kumble
and Nehra were excluded from one-day sides. I've already written about Kumble earlier. We must never play Nehra in one-dayers. He may take wickets, but 4/73 in 10 overs looks really bad in comparison to 1/46 in 10. Despite his direct hits at Ahmedabad
, he is a poor fielder. Agarkar is a much better alternative for one-dayers. He can bat and field better while his bowling is at worst as profligate as Nehra's.