Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar spoke about the flexibility of the Indian line-up, saying that the whole debate will be around how India’s Mo. 4, 5 and 6 in batting lineup would look ahead of the upcoming Asia Cup.
Right-handed middle-order batters K.L. Rahul and Shreyas Iyer have been selected in India’s squad for the upcoming Asia Cup, happening from August 30 to September 17, after recovering in time from a right thigh and back injury respectively.
The availability of Iyer and Rahul, who also has a niggle to deal with which is unrelated to his original injury, had been India’s huge concerns. With the top six not having a left-handed batter, Tilak Varma, who has impressed in T20Is till now, has got a maiden call-up to the ODI squad via the six-team event, with Suryakumar Yadav retained in the 17-member squad.
“I will make a quick point though; let’s not confuse flexibility, the kind of flexibility that I expect. For example, where I mentioned Virat Kohli as a number 4 to solve the problem with Ishan Kishan batting down the order, that’s the kind of flexibility that I’m talking about in the starting template.”
“Now, what happens during the course of the match down the order at number 4, 5, 6; you have two spinners operating, turning a bit, then those kinds of moves are commonplace and something that you expect. Somebody like Hardik Pandya coming in and there is an off-spinner, or Jadeja coming up before left-arm spinner’s bowling, now those are okay.”
“I think with the starting template or with the plan at the start of the game switching an important position. The whole debate really is about how your 4, 5, 6 are going to look. KL Rahul, I worry about the selection with this niggle; Shreyas Iyer is more optimistic and both Ravi (Shastri) and myself when we talked about Virat Kohli at number 4, that’s the kind of flexibility I’m talking about, not while the match is happening and just for a short time where somebody can tackle a particular bowler,” Manjrekar was quoted as saying by Star Sports.
With captain Rohit Sharma saying the team management wanted to be flexible with the batting order, former Australia cricketer Tom Moody feels his comments have come from the match-up tactics dominating modern-day cricket.
“Well, I think in this day and age, whether it be 50-over cricket or 20-over cricket, you need to have an open mind. You need to be flexible, and we talk a lot about match-ups. At times, we talk too much about match-ups in the media, so I think that’s where I think Rohit Sharma is coming from.”
“You know, there may be a case where you might have a left-hander that’s due to come out at number 6, then suddenly the opposition brings out a left-arm spinner or a leg spinner. So, therefore, number 6 is going to be the next person to come into bat. Now, the thing that is really important from a team’s point of view, you have that flexibility and open mind, and I think that’s what he was trying to articulate to the media there.”
“Yes, there will be flexibility, but there are a couple of places that may not be moving because really the foundation of your innings needs to be concrete, you need stability there and role clarity there. But, you know, Hardik Pandya is an impact player. There may be a time when you need to throw him up the order just to get the innings moving quicker than what it has been moving. So, all those tactical nuances, you need to have an open mind too,” Moody was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
India will open their 2023 Asia Cup campaign against Pakistan on September 2, before playing Nepal on September 4. Both of India’s Group A matches will be played at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
The top two sides from Groups A and B will progress to the Super Fours, where they will play three more games at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, which will also host the final on September 17.
After the conclusion of the six-team tournament, India will play three ODIs at home against Australia from September 22-27, before opening their Men’s ODI World Cup campaign, co-incidentally against Australia, on October 8 in Chennai.