Home > Features >

Ravichandran Ashwin, Stuart Binny and Bhuvneshwar Kumar should not be pushed up the order

Indian lower order batting was led by Bhuvneshwar in England © Getty Images
Indian lower order batting was led by Bhuvneshwar in England © Getty Images

 Ravichandran Ashwin, Stuart Binny and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have all been successful with the willow in the Indian lower order during the tour of England. However, promoting them up the batting order may not be fruitful writes Arunabha Sengupta

Remember the inaugural World Cup final of 1975? The Australians tumbled mid innings, lost wickets and momentum, were nine down with lots and lots still to get. You will also remember Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson chipping away at the target, with a great combination of guts, luck and common sense. And then with 17 runs separating the sides, Thomson was run-out half-thinking about a run to the keeper. What about Thomson’s other heartbreak, at Melbourne in 1982-83? Allan Border and he had defied odds and logic, with that incredible last wicket partnership which took Australia to a stroke of victory. And then, eyes lighting up at the sight of a half-tracker, he edged it to slip where Geoff Miller held a parry by Chris Tavare.

Then there was the Titan Cup final of 1996-97, Dave Richardson and Pat Symcox came together at 96 for seven and produced an amazing collaboration. They battled all with skill and aplomb, till only 37 runs remained to be scored, and then suddenly both fell within one run of each other. And, finally, who can forget the wild flat batted slog of Nayan Mongia off Waqar Younis at Chennai in 1998-99? It effectively broke the hearts of billions of Indian fans, after Sachin Tendulkar had played perhaps the most gruelling innings of his career to bring India within a whisker of victory.

There are many, many examples of such occurrences in cricket, when the late order batsmen have rallied admirably with situation has looked all but hopeless. And then,with hope dawning like silver lining around the darkest clouds of despair, they have lost their way with the win in sight. Of course, there are counter examples. Andy Roberts and Derek added those 64 runs to bring off a remarkable victory over Pakistan at Birmingham in 1975. Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble performed a similar miracle against Australia at Bangalore. Mushtaq Ahmed did it with Inzamam ul Haq at Karachi, Ewan Chatfield with Jeremy Coney in Dunedin, and Ishant Sharma with VVS Laxman at Mohali. But, such acts of lower order heroics have turned legendary because they are rare.

The following statistic bears out this phenomenon. Of the 84 partnerships of over 50 runs for the last three wickets that have taken place in the fourth innings of a Test match, only eight have been scored in a winning cause, as many as 62 in losing ones. The most famous is perhaps the Alan Davidson and Richie Benaud collaboration which almost won the Brisbane Test for Australia against West Indies in 1960-61, but finished just that bit short. And then Joe Solomon threw down the stumps of Ian Meckiff with the scores tied.

The lower order can bat wonderfully if there is nothing to lose, when there is not a care in the world, no responsibility on the shoulder. When odds are insurmountable, the performance shines through. The moment the task becomes tangible, a dark shadow encroaches on the effort. The progress, that crosses mountains while the goal is unseen, stumbles over smallest road-bump with the end in sight. With the success of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Stuart Binny in the batting line up, there are voices wondering if they cannot be pushed up the order. Ravichandran Ashwin has often been superb with the bat, and opinions have been put forward for his name to be slotted at No 6. But, therein lies the problem.

Part of the success of the Indian lower order batsmen can be attributed to their being exactly that – the lower order. They have performed partly because no one ever expected them to. Their roles did not demand it of them. The runs flowed as a by-product of their principal occupation, a bonus, a nice to have asset not budgeted for. There is a possibility that the moment the additional load of responsibility is thrust on their shoulders, the willows will be burdened by the added expectation and will not swing through as freely. Unless it is a conscious change of role as in the case of a Ravi Shastri or a Wilfred Rhodes, the tail should perhaps be allowed to wag unfettered.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry.He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Dhaka

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 11, 2014  at Delhi

India won by 48 runs

Photos

India vs West Indies 4th ODI at Dharamsala

Videos

AB de Villiers speaks ahead of New Zealand ODIs

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: 5 memorable matches

Yasir Shah: The new spinning sensation for Pakistan

Virat Kohli takes wicket with the first (0th?) ball of his T20I career

Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography — a litany of complaints with a few redeeming patches

Banning West Indian players in IPL can affect the ‘Brand value’ of the event – Will BCCI take this gamble?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 India India vs West Indies India vs West Indies 2014 New Zealand Pakistan Salaam Cricket South Africa Sri Lanka West Indies West Indies cancel India tour 2014 West Indies tour of India 2014 West Indies vs India West Indies vs India 2014

West Indies players allowed to play IPL

ICC World Cup 2015: Hagely Oval gets ICC accreditation

Rohit Sharma to make comeback, Manoj Tiwary to lead in practice match against Sri Lanka

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Venues for 5 ODIs announced

MS Dhoni rested, Virat Kohli to lead in first 3 India vs Sri Lanka ODIs

MS Dhoni rested, Virat Kohli as captain, and other points of interest from squad for first 3 India vs Sri Lanka ODIs

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: MS Dhoni gets much-needed break ahead of Australia tour

Virat Kohli becomes fastest to 20 ODI hundreds

A Pakistan all-time XI: A galaxy of captains

James Neesham can provide more impetus to New Zealand’s weakened batting up the order

Fan of the Day

Gautam Singh

Gautam Singh

474 Posts | 5 Fans

Video Highlights Mohammed Yousuf drops catch after watching a girl in bikini

अभिनेत्री हुमा कुरैशी ओरिफ्लेम की ब्रांड एंबेसडर

Has Bigg Boss 8 made Karishma Tanna the most hated person?

Pranab Mukherjee returns home after visit to Norway, Finland

Revealed: First look of Amitabh Bachchan-Farhan Akhtar’s Do!

7 reasons why having sex during pregnancy is great for your health

Videocon Infinium Graphite with gesture control feature launched, priced at Rs 10,499

Rupee up 19 paise against dollar in early trade

Twitter introduces Audio Cards to listen to music directly from your timeline

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here