After the Indian top order failed to live up to the expectations in the warm-up game against New Zealand, skipper Virat Kohli expects his lower-order batsmen to rise to the occasion if a situation arises in the upcoming World Cup.
On Saturday, Kohli’s decision to pose a challenge for his batting lineup led to top-order collapse at Kennington Oval, London.
None of the three opening options – Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul – managed to make a mark. Even Kohli, the number one batter in the world, couldn’t provide much resistance to his struggling team and was cleaned bowed by Colin de Grandhomme at his individual score of 18. After his wicket, India were left reeling at 39 for 4 in the 11th over.
However, Hardik Pandya’s brisk 30 led a brief revival, only for the innings to stutter again until Ravindra Jadeja guided the lower order.
In the absence of Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav, Jadeja top scored with a 50-ball 54 to haul India to 179. The left-handed all-rounder added 62 with Kuldeep Yadav for the eighth wicket, allowing India to reach the 40-over mark, a prospect that looked unlikely when Trent Boult ran through the top order. Boult snared a four-fer while James Neesham snared three wickets as the Men in Blue were bundled out in 39.2 overs.
“Very good,” Kohli said of the lower-order contributions at the post-match presentation.
“I mean, the one thing we spoke about in a tournament like the World Cup is, you could easily have your top order out for not too many, so the lower order has to look forward to that and I think Hardik (Pandya) batted really well. MS (Dhoni) absorbed the pressure really well and (Ravindra) Jadeja got a few runs as well, so I think from that point of view, we got a lot out of this game, which is what we wanted to. The lower order getting some runs that was the biggest positive.”
The Indian skipper lauded bowlers’ effort and felt that the fielding and catching need to improve.
“We bowled well – they were going at 4, 4.5 per over – and looking at that in isolation we did well. Fielders are going to play a crucial role, half chances will be massive. We’ll have to be precise in all three departments,” said Kohli. India will now take on Bangladesh in the second warm-up game on May 28 before beginning their World Cup campaign against South Africa on June 5.