India’s top three 'lackadaisical'
Another high-octane India versus Pakistan clash is set for Sunday, as both arch-rivals look to outwit each other in the Super Four match at the ongoing Asia Cup 2022. For defending champions India, the hotly-anticipated fixture will be a chance to revamp their batting approach, which has been cautious in the Powerplay overs so far.
Neither Rohit Sharma nor Virat Kohli looked comfortable against the Pakistani attack, while KL Rahul perished for a nought. It was Hardik Pandya's one-man show that got India over the line in a thrilling last-over finish. Against Hong Kong, Suryakumar Yadav produced an incredible 68* off 26 balls to set up a crucial win.
Former India player Dodda Ganesh was blunt in his analysis as lashed out at the famed top-3 for its 'lackadaisical' batting. "Can't expect SKY and the other middle-order batsmen to bail you out every time for the top three's lackadaisical approach. High time the elephant in the room is addressed. This simply can't continue," he wrote on Twitter.
It remains to be seen if skipper Rohit and Rahul Dravid take the gamble of opening with Rishabh Pant on Sunday. Rahul looked scratchy against Hong Kong to produce his slowest ever (36 off 39 balls) innings, while Kohli showed glimpses of his old self and hit 59* off 44 balls. But the former skipper was questioned for his intent during the middle overs.
Wasim Jaffer, former Indian opener, said he was worried over lack of fluency in Kohli's innings. "I am still worried about his fluency. That fluency is still not there which we have seen before. I don't think we are witnessing fluency yet, even though he scored runs today," said Jaffer ESPNcricinfo's post-match programme.
"If anyone is scoring at a strike rate of 140 or 150 then India is in trouble. So there must be someone who needs to bat at a much greater strike rate," he added.
Yadav, however, shifted gears and hit six sixes in his 26-ball knock, which steered India to 192-2 batting first. Hong Kong were limited to 152-5 in reply as India registered their second successive victory to join Afghanistan in the next round of the six-nation tournament.
India head into the Super Four with a clean record, having notched up two wins in two matches and gathered four points. Pakistan are in the second position with one win in two matches and two points.