Indian middle order relies on Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan – Mohinder Amarnath

Former India all-rounder veteran Mohinder Amarnath has praised the Indian cricket team’s historic ODI series win in South Africa, but has a little concern. Amarnath has been following India’s tour of South Africa closely, and believes that the Indian middle batting order is too shaky, and too reliant on opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan and captain Virat Kohli.

India concluded the six-match ODI series against South Africa on Tuesday, by taking an unassailable 4-1 lead with one ODI still remaining to be played. Virat Kohli registered the most runs in the five innings of the ODI series among the Indian batsmen, with 429 runs which include two centuries and a half-century.

However, excluding Shikhar Dhawan’s total of 305 runs, the Indian batting order has been below-par, feels Mohinder Amarnath. Rohit Sharma scored his 17th ODI century in the 5th ODI against South Africa, after failing repeatedly in the first four matches, while Ajinkya Rahane, who was being acutely missed in the Test series by India critics, has only one fifty in four innings. Little lower in the batting order, MS Dhoni’s 69 runs and Hardik Pandya’s 26 runs aren’t very promising for India’s future.

Amarnath praises Rohit Sharma’s century, but remains worried

Writing in his column for TOI, although Mohinder Amarnath praised Rohit Sharma’s ability to bounce back from a terrible run-less drought in the 1st four ODIs to scoring a match-winning century in the 5th ODI, but was concerned about the Indian team’s heavy reliance on Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan, who have seemed to be on song in South Africa.

Mohinder Amarnath, who scored 4,378 Test runs with 11 centuries during his excellent cricket career, said.

“One of the best things to come out of Tuesday’s game is Rohit Sharma’s knock. He seemed a different player. The aggression was there, and he didn’t shy away from hitting those short balls which were bothering him earlier on this tour. He is one of those players who can convert a start into a big innings, and this was a crucial one as India needed someone in the top order to stand up. So far it has been Virat or Shikhar Dhawan who have been the main pillars on this tour.”

(READ: Rohit Sharma says 17th ODI century was a long-time coming)

“The Indian middle order is still a bit of a worry for me. So far, they have not really come to terms with the opponents, and the worry is that if the top-order fails, then what will happen? They need to be more consistent so that they can take the responsibility on themselves, should the situation demand.”

Shikhar Dhawan needs to apply himself like Virat Kohli

Mohinder Amarnath also scrutinized Shikhar Dhawan’s dismissal for a brisk 23-ball 34, which came when the 32-year-old pulled South Africa pacer Kagiso Rabada to deep square leg. The 67-year-old cricket veteran said,

“I was a bit disappointed at the way Shikhar got out. He should start applying himself like Virat, and look to carry deep into the innings. He’s a fantastic player and has done exceptionally well but he can do better. If he can stay till the end, things can only get better for India.”

Wrist-spinners changed the face of the India-South Africa series

If there are players who have shone right through the ODI series against South Africa, it is the wrist-spinning duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, who have bagged 14 and 16 wickets respectively, so far. Both have given the South African batsmen a tough time, while breaking illustrious cricket records to have their own stats in the place. Mohinder Amarnath, who was part of India’s World Cup-winning team of 1983, wrote,

“Wrist-spinners are a very important part of the team, especially overseas where wickets are not usually conducive to spin. These two boys, Kuldeep and Chahal, have done very well right through. It is their bowling that changed the complexion of the whole series, especially if you take into consideration the number of wickets they have taken and the time taken to pick them up.”

South Africa rely too heavily Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers

“South Africa rely too heavily on Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, who are probably the only two players who really read Kuldeep and Chahal well. The others, honestly, seem to have no clue: there’s a lot of guesswork and slogging. That may work sometimes, but not all the time against quality spinners. Kuldeep and Chahal have managed to create doubt in their minds, leaving them to wonder how tackle them. This has been the difference and something that has helped India win in South Africa.”

India have sealed the six-match ODI series 4-1, and the last ODI, i.e. 6th ODI, will be played on Friday in Centurion, at the SuperSport Park.

(READ: MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma & Hardik Pandya bother Kris Srikkanth)