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All the IPL riches and India still do not have a settled middle order

first_imgManish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, KL Rahul and Yuvraj Singh are some of the names that have all tried their hand at batting in the middle-order for Team India in the ODI format this year. But the team is yet to find the right combination in the batting lineup.All the above-mentioned players are tried and tested batsmen and have proved their worth in the Indian Premier League. Franchises have shelled out millions of dollars for their services in the IPL but when it comes to the national side, captain Virat Kohli and the team management are still working out its permutations and combinations.Yuvraj Singh is the most experienced player of the lot but his inconsistent run combined with fitness issues meant that he was dropped from the side after the series in West Indies in June this year.Jadhav is the only player who has been a constant feature in the playing XI since he provides the captain with the additional option of part-time spin and often makes crucial breakthrough’s with his street-smart bowling.But frequent changes in the batting order hasn’t helped the 32-year-old. Jadhav has batted in all positions in the middle-order from No. 4-7 depending upon the situation of the game. Out of all the positions he has batted in, No. 6 has suited Jadhav the most as he averages over 63 in that spot having played 12 innings scoring 511 runs including two hundreds and a fifty.The next best bet in the middle order is Pandey but the Karnataka batsman has strangely found himself in and out of the playing XI more often than not. In the two years since he made his ODI debut, Pandey has played just 19 matches and scored 430 runs at an average of 43 with one hundred and two half-centuries.advertisementPandey though, has mostly been drafted into the playing XI when someone or the other gets injured or is unavailable due to some reason. However, this year the team management has stuck with Pandey but he still hasn’t managed to grab a permanent place in the XI.Pandey has played 7 matches this year and scored 169 runs at 42.25 with one half-century. Like Jadhav, India have experimented with Pandey at No. 4, 5 and 6 in the last two years. His average at No. 5 is over 55 while at 6 he averages over 45.Reuters Photo India have also tried Rahul once each at No. 4 and 5 but he failed to make an impression in both innings. In fact this year Rahul’s form in the ODI format has been very poor which is why he was dropped from the squad for the ongoing series against New Zealand.Rahul’s omission has given Karthik an opportunity to make a comeback and cement his place in the team, something which he hasn’t been able to do since he made his debut in 2004. Consistency has deserted the right-hander every time he has been brought into the side.The 32-year-old veteran cricketer made his ODI return after a gap of three years in the ODI series against the West Indies this year where he played two games and scored 2 and 50  not out. In the first ODI against the Black Caps, Karthik made an impressive 37 and sort of bailed the team out of trouble along with Kohli. But once again he failed to convert a start and perished against the run of play.The man who is still holding the middle-order together for India is the ever-reliable MS Dhoni, who has regained his form this year ever since he gave up the limited-overs captaincy in January.Dhoni is averaging over 67 in the 24 ODIs he has played this year scoring 673 runs with one hundred and five fifties. Cricket pundits have been pleading for Dhoni to be sent up the batting order but the team management has been reluctant to do so because if the most-experienced batsman gets out cheaply then it will badly expose the rest of the youngsters coming in after him.Dhoni hasn’t batted above the No. 5 slot this year where in 8 innings he is averaging over 62 with one hundred and three fifties. At No. 6 he has played 7 knocks and is averaging over 78 with two scores of over 50. India have even sent him at No. 7 three times this year where he is averaging 65.The sensational Hardik Pandya has played 24 games this year and is averaging over 41 with four half-centuries. He has been sent up the order as high as No. 4 where he’s played four innings and made 142 runs at 35.50 with a strike rate of over 105. But the 24-year-old has been India’s best bet at No. 7 where he’s played 9 innings and scored 330 runs at over 47 with a strike rate of 125.advertisementPandya is the floater who can be lethal in any position as he possesses the ability to hit sixes and fours at will. Along with Dhoni, Pandya is the only other permanent face in the middle-order.It’s the other three slots which has caused India a headache. Captain Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri are still continuing to experiment with the available options but are reluctant to zero in on a particular combination, which may later go on to hurt India on their foreign tours.last_img read more