The impending ODI World Cup 2023, merely two months away, has India gearing up to host the monumental tournament for the fourth time in its history. With the spotlight on them as hosts, the ‘Men in Blue’ shoulder the weight of immense expectations, striving to clinch the coveted trophy and break a decade-long ICC title drought. However, as the team navigates this pivotal juncture, uncertainties loom due to injuries that have sidelined several key players.
Yuvraj Singh, the iconic former India all-rounder, echoed a prevailing concern surrounding India’s middle-order fragility in the lead-up to the cricketing extravaganza. He cautioned that unless addressed, this issue could resurface under pressure, marking a recurring struggle for the team. India’s middle order has faltered in pivotal knockout clashes over the past ten years, contributing significantly to their prolonged lack of ICC titles.
Yuvraj Singh articulated his reservations during an interaction on the Cricket Basu YouTube channel, stating, “I can be a patriot and say ‘India will win because I am an Indian.’ But I see a lot of concerns in the Indian middle order because of injuries. If those concerns are not resolved, we will struggle, especially in pressure games.”
He further added, “Don’t experiment in pressure games. The skill work to bat in the middle order is very different from that of an opener. Is there anybody there (in the team management) who is working around the guys that will be playing in the middle order?”
Evidently, India’s reliance on their star-studded top order, helmed by Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, has been conspicuous. A recent instance during the first ODI against West Indies in Barbados saw Sharma and Kohli abstaining from batting despite a mere requirement of 115 runs for victory. However, this strategic decision proved counterproductive, as India stumbled, losing five wickets during what should have been a straightforward chase.
Ultimately, Rohit had to step in and seal the victory. India’s middle-order experimentation has been compounded by injuries sidelining key players such as KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, and Rishabh Pant. Suryakumar Yadav’s transition from his explosive T20I performances to ODIs has yet to yield the desired results.
As Rohit Sharma leads the side, the absence of a stable middle-order lineup intensifies the already mounting pressure. Their forthcoming opportunities, including the upcoming Asia Cup and a three-match ODI series against Australia, serve as the final chances to address these challenges before the World Cup commences.