MS Dhoni India England 2018 ODI 3rd
MS Dhoni was far from his best at Lord’s © Getty Images

In an encore of the T20 Internationals series, India conceded their 1-0 lead in the second ODI against England. Joe Root scored a hundred and the England bowlers did a tidy job, but India’s batting coach Sanjay Bangar echoes the thoughts of pundits and fans when he insisted that deciding on the best possible Indian middle-order for the World Cup needs some work.

“Going forward, there’s still 16-17 games to go, we are looking at the games remaining where we could look at settling the middle-order slots. I’m sure things are pretty fluid at the moment. It’s not that a guy is only going to bat at a particular number, it’s going to be a very, very fluid situation and we’ll see as to the players availability,” said Bangar in a press conference.

MS Dhoni was criticised for an inadequate approach as the asking rate kept mounting. However, Bangar defended Dhoni’s innings: ”When the team loses four wickets — at least in the one-day format with the combination we are playing at the moment — we do not really have the depth at number eight, nine and 10 where the batsman at number six, seven can play with that freedom.”

Bangar also asserted that the middle-order has not been tested on the tour due to the incredible show from Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and of late, KL Rahul, at the top: “The way our top order is batting, generally, our middle order hasn’t got the number of opportunities that you would expect because they are doing the bulk of the scoring. At times, straight away they have to walk into a game situation. Not all of the players are playing all formats of the game. You also have to give some weight to that.”

Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be available for the decider if he passes a fitness test later today. Bangar explains how his injury was actually a blessing in disguise: “It provides us an opportunity, because there’s not too many games to go before the World Cup — only 16 or 17 games. It gives us an ideal situation to test the bench strength … With the upcoming Test series coming, we never wanted to take any chances with Bhuvi. He’s very critical to the team’s plans.”