Famous cricket commentator, Harsha Bhogle has dwelled on something which is a hot topic of debate around the cricketing world. The Indian middle-order in the limited overs game, Harsha emphasised, is a big issue and should be a major concern for the Indian team management led by captain Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri.
Failure to fully extend after building a decent platform from India's usually dominating top 3 of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli at Lord's and Headingley, exposed India's soft underbelly, which is their middle to lower order batting. The might of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina didn't get going at all in the two ODIs, as India's twin disappointments with the bat went a long way in England coming back into the series and eventually winning it 2-1.
Harsha Bhogle reiterated this problem on Cricbuzz and said, “India came into this tournament, looking pretty settled, deciding who the number four should be. You’ve tried Yuvraj, Rahane, Manish Pandey and so many others and then India went back towards the end to back Dinesh Karthik and tried KL Rahul. Number 4 is open and I find that staggering in a country with so much talent,”
“Suresh Raina has been around since 2006. He has been a fantastic white-ball cricketer for India but is he still pulling his weight in the side. I love the attitude that Raina brings to a game, but I’m afraid, the answer to that has to be a no. MS Dhoni at six, it’s very difficult to say that about a legend, but he’s not doing it with the bat."
Making a point specifically on MS Dhoni, Harsha said, "With Dhoni, there’s a couple of things. Dhoni is also the spin-bowler’s captain standing up. He allows Virat Kohli to go back in the deep and can Dhoni find a new role for himself. He can bat at number four, gets the time or does he just go in at six, seven and start to slog around. But India needs to find a solution to MS Dhoni. He’s a legend, he’s too big a player. The decision has to be taken around now,”
India next plays ODIs in September and has less than 20 games before the World Cup begins next year in England. The middle-order problem is something they'll have to sort out as soon as possible.