Home / Sports / Cricket News /  Cricket World Cup 2019: India can test a new batting lineup against Afghanistan

It’s never a good idea to take any team for granted at the World Cup. But if India wants to rejig their batting lineup, with Rishabh Pant coming into the mix, Saturday’s game against the league’s lowest-placed team Afghanistan comes at an opportune time.

Mint takes a look at the possibilities.

No. 4 is a specialist batting position

Kedar Jadhav hasn’t played Test cricket, and mostly bats down the order in ODIs. Vijay Shankar has played 10 ODIs and is yet to make a fifty. Dinesh Karthik, who wore India colours before MS Dhoni, has only made a mark as a finisher with cameos. None of the three had a good IPL. That’s why KL Rahul, who had a great run as a T20 opener, got thrust into the No. 4 position after several others had been tried before the World Cup. Now, with Rahul moving up to replace the injured opener Shikhar Dhawan, India need another specialist batsman at No. 4.

Pant has the credentials

Jadhav and Shankar are good choices as late order batsmen who can share the fifth bowler’s quota with Hardik Pandya. Converting one of them or Karthik to a No. 4 bat is a gamble with long odds. A better bet could be Pant, given his Test record as well as exploits in two IPL seasons. His strike rate has never been a problem. The question is whether he has the temperament to bat through tough periods in a 50-over game if a couple of wickets fall early. He has batted in only four ODIs, but his Test credentials do show he has the mettle. He had a century in England, two nineties against the West Indies, and an unbeaten 159 against Australia at Sydney. His Test average is 49.7.

India could have an Eoin Morgan

One can’t lay too many expectations on the 21-year-old, who is still a work in progress. But the six-hitting prowess Pant has shown brings to mind what another left-hander, Eoin Morgan, does for England at No.4. Morgan’s 148, with 17 sixes, powered England to 397 against Afghanistan. Rashid Khan, one of the best leg-spinners in T20 leagues, went for 110 runs. That’s the impact a power-hitting left-hander can have in the middle order.

Afghan fairy tale turns into a nightmare

Afghanistan’s entry into the World Cup has been a fairy tale for a strife-torn country. Their world class spinners were expected to make them competitive. But they’ve had five drubbings on the field. They’ve also had problems off the field, with mid-tournament changes in the team, replacement of their selector, and grumbling by their West Indian coach.

Watch out for the chafing leggie

The smiling assassin Rashid Khan was left scratching his head against England. But he’s an experienced IPL campaigner who can take a beating and come back stronger. He’ll try and put salve on a bruised ego when he bowls next. India can be confident but not complacent, because Afghanistan do have the bowlers to cause an upset in this World Cup.

Last chance for the West Indies

Saturday’s second game pits the West Indies against New Zealand at Old Trafford in Manchester. It’s the last chance for the Windies to stay in contention for the semi-finals. Their bowlers need to come up with a Plan B if bouncers don’t work. And their marquee batsmen need to switch from T20 mode to 50-over cricket. New Zealand have come through a couple of close shaves in sub-250 run chases. They could be put under pressure if the West Indies manage to put up a 300-plus score.

Sumit Chakraberty is the author of 2019 Cricket World Cup Thinking Cap.

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