Nasser Hussain feels India’s recent struggles in ICC knockout matches can be attributed to their top-heavy batting line-up, which tends to stick to a trusted template, but fails to switch to an alternative plan when their “Plan A” doesn’t click.
Since their 2013 Champions Trophy win, India have consistently faltered in the knockout stages of major ICC tournaments, losing in the finals of the 2014 T20 World Cup and the 2017 Champions Trophy, while crashing out in the semi-finals of the 2015 World Cup, the 2016 T20 World Cup and the 2019 World Cup.
“[Not sure] How much responsibility he [skipper Virat Kohli] takes for this – I would say selection is where India have gone wrong over ICC tournaments,” Hussain said, speaking on Star Sport’s Cricket Connected, “and also adapting to conditions a little but. It’s not just about having one game plan, it’s adapting your game plan to if it is nibbling around.”
Hussain feels that India’s reliance on Kohli and Rohit Sharma, two of their most prolific run-makers, tends to create a skewed line-up where the middle order isn’t tested enough until it gets exposed, citing the example of the 2019 World Cup between India and New Zealand, where a dramatic collapse uncovered their middle-order inadequacies.
“If you are in a World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, and it [the ball] is doing a little bit, where is your middle order if you are 20-2 and Kohli and Sharma are out?” Hussain said.
Since January 2015, nobody has hit more fours in ODI cricket than these three.
What. A. Trio 🔥 pic.twitter.com/IUMmNZjrlU
— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) June 9, 2020
“It’s almost the fault of Indian cricket that they can be a little bit too good at the top. When it’s good and it’s flat, Sharma hundred, Kohli hundred, hundreds at the top, and the lads in the middle don’t get a hit. And suddenly you’re 20-3 because you have come up against [Mitchell] Starc and [Josh] Hazlewood and all these guys, or against New Zealand, Boult has bowled you.
“And you’re like, ‘Oh these guys haven’t had much of a hit,” Hussain said. “Who is our No.4, and how are we gonna get out of this now? So it’s having that Plan B that’ll help them get across the line, not just having a Plan A.”