Put that in context to what happened in the last two ODIs in Pune, it seems that the Indian top order that has a rather conservative approach in the 50-over format to be called ‘explosive’. Such has been the pace of modern-day white-ball batting that scores of 317 and 336 no longer seem ominous enough as it did a decade ago.
India has followed a template in ODI batting for the last four years. The top-order bats steadily for 70% of the innings before cutting loose in the back 15. Rohit Sharma, Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan have scored around 10500 runs and 44 centuries between themselves in the last four years. They have anchored the innings well but that hasn’t given much time to batsmen from No. 4 onward.
While that plays out particularly well in a chase, the approach could be incinerating while setting a target. India they have been outhit in six out of the last eight ODIs and they have barely managed to defend a target in the last 14 ODIs. India had the services of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami in the six ODIS preceding this series.
“Today should be a lesson to India. Playing it safe for 40 overs with bat might cost them in a World Cup at home in 2 yrs … they have enough power & depth to get scores of 375 + on flat wickets … England leading the way with this approach,” former England captain Michael Vaughan tweeted after England made a mockery of the 337-run chase on Friday night.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli (AFP Photo)
Without being pedantic, it’s becoming more evident that one-day batting has become more aggressive. Former India wicketkeeper and commentator Deep Dasgupta reckoned: “Maybe facing an England batting like this makes the tempo of Indian innings questionable. But this has worked for India. However, the middle overs need to be re-looked.”
It was in the middle overs that KL Rahul and Kohli batted out Moeen Ali for just 47 runs off his 10 overs and Adil Rashid conceded 65 off his 10. On a flat pitch which didn’t take turn, the scoring rate is difficult comprehend in this day. “India could be more flexible with their batting lineup. Someone like Rishabh Pant could be sent higher up to accelerate and unsettle the opposition. The power-hitters could be given more time than the last 10 overs,” Dasgupta mentioned.
The Indian team management may not consider ODIs as a yardstick for form in these two years but they must also remember that there’s just two and a half years to go for the ODI World Cup at home!