With the Asia Cup and the ODI World Cup around the corner, India's middle order has come into the spotlight yet again.
The likes of Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul may have been picked for the Asia Cup squad after a long injury lay-off, but their inclusion without testing fitness in a match situation is certainly a gamble that the selectors and team management have taken.
When India’s squad for the Asia Cup 2023 was announced last week, India skipper Rohit Sharma addressed the media and said that players needed to be prepared for a flexible-looking middle order.
"One thing I want in this team is to make sure everyone is okay to bat anywhere. That's one thing we need to keep in mind. You need flexibility, guys who can step up at any position. No one should say, 'I'm good at this position or I'm good at that position'. You want guys to be able to bat anywhere, that's the message conveyed to every individual. Not now, but over the last three-fours years," Rohit had said.
The Indian captain’s comment, however, hasn’t gone down well with the 1983 World Cup winner Madan Lal.
Speaking to Sports Tak, Lal expressed his disagreement with the mindset of being too flexible and called this theory “weird”.
"You said, you have asked everyone that you can be asked to bat anywhere. I don't agree. Specialist batters should bat in their preferred positions. If India want to win the Asia Cup and World Cup, they need good performances from No.4 to No.8. They are the ones who make the game while batting in the middle overs," Madan Lal stated.
"If you keep shuffling your batting order then no one will gain confidence. Yes, you can definitely change one or two guys depending on the match situation but every player should know their role and what they are required to do in order to score runs in that middle phase. This is not T20 where you just go and bat one away and hit your way out. Here, you have to build your innings. If your top-order starts well then your middle-order needs to carry that momentum to put up a good total and if the top-order fails then also if the players in the middle bat well you can get to a good total. So it's a specialist position. I felt weird that the captain said anybody can bat anywhere," he added.
Madan Lal further said that the Asia Cup will reveal whether Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul are match fit or not.
"We'll get to know about the fitness of KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer in this Asia Cup. If they are fit and they play well in the Asia Cup then that will be the biggest outcome for India," he remarked.
The Men in Blue will begin their Asia Cup 2023 campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan in Pallekele on September 2.