The middle-order did not have to play any part in the first match in Dambulla, with Shikhar Dhawan (132*) and Virat Kohli (82*) taking the side home with 9 wickets to spare. But in both the matches in Pallekele, the middle-order fell like a pack of cards. In the second ODI, India slumped from 113 for 2 to 131 for 7 while in Game 3, they were left tottering at 61 for 4.
For a while on Thursday at the R Premadasa Stadium, it seemed India’s middle-order woes would hurt them again as they tumbled to 274 for 5 after coasting at 225 for 2, before Dhoni and Manish Pandey ensured a massive total with an unbeaten century stand.
KL Rahul is used to Batting at the top of the order and the game is a little different there. I think he has to understand how the middle overs go as batting after 30 overs is very different from opening the batting. You need some time to adjust
Chief national selector MSK Prasad had said before the start of the series that KL Rahul was too good a player to be left out of the playing XI. But with Dhawan and Rohit Sharma in great touch, Rahul could only be accommodated in the middle-order where he has looked like a fish out of water.
Rahul, who made his ODI debut with an unbeaten century opening the innings against Zimbabwe in 2016, has batted at No. 3, 4 and 5 in the series so far, and managed scores of 4, 17 and 7, respectively. Worryingly, he has fallen to spinner Akila Dananjaya all three times. Pandey, who finally got a game on Thursday and grabbed the opportunity by hitting an unbeaten 50, sympathised with his Karnataka statemate.
“Even I was finding it difficult batting at No. 6. While batting at No. 4, I used to come in after around 25 overs, but now I come after 40 overs which is very different,” Pandey said on Thursday. “Rahul is used to batting at the top of the order and the game is a little different there. I think he has to understand how the middle overs go as batting after 30 overs is very different from opening the batting,” he added. Pandey is hopeful that Rahul will soon adjust. “You need some time. A player gets adjusted to his new position after playing more matches,” Pandey felt.
Asked whether he is comfortable batting up the order, given the fact that Team India are in experimentation mode in this series, Pandey said: “Middle-order is where I bat…Starting from No. 4 to No. 6, I have batted at different positions. I have to be ready for whatever spot I get. If I get a chance, I need to get some runs and cement that spot for myself first,” Pandey said.
“Then if you keep performing and you keep playing better, then maybe you come one up in the order. So, that will be my goal… to fix a spot or two for myself, stay there at the end and win games for India.”
A chat with coach Ravi Shastri had helped Pandey plan his game on Thursday.
“I had a chat with Ravi bhai yesterday and even before the start of the game about how I take some time before I start playing my natural game. I needed at least six to 10 balls to know what the pitch was like,” he said.
Source : timesofindia