In­dia’s re­liance on top 3 gets Lara thumbs down

Sunday Express - - SPORT - VISHALVIVEK vishal@newin­di­an­ex­press.com

THERE are some ques­tions that re­main unan­swered for years. Not to that ex­tent, but In­dia’s mid­dle-or­der mud­dle has made scores of peo­ple in the fra­ter­nity scratch their heads. If it was not for the swift and sud­den el­e­va­tion of Am­bati Rayudu to the In­dian dress­ing room, the ques­tion would have largely stayed unan­swered.

In the last few years, the toporder of Shikhar Dhawan, Ro­hit Sharma and Vi­rat Kohli has steered the team to fa­mous vic­to­ries, while bat­ting first as well as chas­ing. The mid­dle-or­der, chiefly the No 4 spot, has only been an area of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. Seven dif­fer­ent bats­men, from Kedar Jadhav to KL Rahul have been tried in that po­si­tion since the tour of Sri Lanka last year.

The much-hailed troika’s in­flu­ence on the team in the past 36 months could be gauged from the fact that Dhawan, Ro­hit and Kohli have av­er­aged 49.46, 70.41 and 94.47, re­spec­tively.

West Indies great Brian Lara on Satur­day warned In­dia of overly re­ly­ing on the three ahead of the qua­dren­nial show­down that com­mences in Eng­land next year. Pick­ing In­dia as one of the firm favourites for the tour­na­ment, the Trinida­dian said, “In­dia have been re­ally con­sis­tent. How­ever, there is too much re­liance on (Ro­hit) Sharma and (Vi­rat) Kohli and the top or­der. In­dia will have to do some­thing about 4 to 7 to make sure that if these guys don’t pro­duce re­sults up­front, there is a good back-up. Play­ing and scor­ing in In­dia is a dif­fer­ent ball game from play­ing in Eng­land and Aus­tralia. So, the World Cup will be a test­ing time for a lot of play­ers.”

The 49-year-old even pre­dicted a fi­nal fea­tur­ing Eng­land and In­dia. “If I were to think of it, an In­dia-Eng­land fi­nal is most likely, if they do not meet ear­lier in the com­pe­ti­tion. Eng­land are very strong at home. On the other hand, they have not re­ally won many big tour­na­ments. So it might just be wish­ful think­ing,” Lara, who is in the city to par­tic­i­pate in the Kr­ish­na­p­at­nam Port Golden Ea­gles Golf Cham­pi­onship, opined.

The for­mer bats­man marked teams such as Pak­istan to cre­ate sur­prises in the tour­na­ment. “The favourites are four or five teams. It is very hard to sep­a­rate them when they are play­ing at their best. Then there are teams like Pak­istan which sur­prised ev­ery­one in the last Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy by get­ting rid of In­dia in the fi­nal, after suf­fer­ing a big de­feat against them ear­lier in the tour­na­ment. They are so un­pre­dictable that you can never be sure what will hap­pen. They can make an exit in the first round it­self or go till the end.”

PTI

Kapil Dev and Brian Lara at the fourth edi­tion of Golden Ea­gles Golf Cham­pi­onship in Hy­der­abad |

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