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Will India’s weak lower-order cost them World Cup 2023?

World Cup 2023: Team India & the lack of depth in tail-end batting; will the lower-order cost India World Cup? India batters from 7-11 position averages 15.10 which is at 7th place among the top cricket nations.

Cricket World Cup 2023_ India's weak lower-order can cost India world cup 2023__ Walking wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
India's weak lower-order can cost India world cup 2023? (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

The road to the ICC World Cup 2023 has heated up with all the top contenders being in action in recent days. Nine of the 10 participating teams have played ODI cricket in the last few weeks - with New Zealand touring England and Australia visiting South Africa.


Also Asia Cup 2023 is in the concluding stage, where India is set to take on the defending champions Sri Lanka in the final on Sunday. So with less than 20 days left for the World Cup, ODI cricket is just about peaking at the right time.


There will be talking points for each team on how they can improve going into the quadrennial event. For India, one thing they need to address is the contribution of lower-order when it comes to batting and also the lack of batters who can bowl a few overs.


For now, we will concentrate on the former and see how the Indian lower-order has fared in this calendar year, when it comes to ODIs, and how they stand in comparison with the other World Cup participants.


The table shows the contributions of batters from 7-11 for all the 10 teams that will be vying for World Cup glory in the coming month.

Team

Mat

Innigs

Runs

Outs

Avg

SR

HS

England

10

10

530

22

24.09

102.12

150

New Zealand

13

13

847

42

20.17

99.06

218

Australia

6

6

393

20

19.65

85.61

166

Netherlands

12

12

477

27

17.67

84.28

167

Pakistan

10

10

344

22

15.64

98.01

93

South Africa

9

9

321

21

15.29

88.43

60

India

14

14

453

30

15.1

70.12

71

Afghanistan

9

9

409

31

13.19

81.8

112

Sri Lanka

17

17

695

54

12.87

76.04

89

Bangladesh

15

15

551

44

12.52

73.66

91

Key insights from the above statistics

This is the batting performance of the batters from 7-11 position in ODI cricket in the calendar year 2023.


When we see that stat, our focus readily shifts to India and their batters below par returns when compared to the other teams.


Indian batters (7-11) average just 15.1 in this period and the strike rate also isn’t too promising. Batters in the tail have scored just 453 runs in 14 matches with the combined aggregate highest being 71.


India vs Sri Lanka, 2nd T20I, Top Performances_ Axar Patel's scored 65 & took 2-24 in 2nd T20I _ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Axar is the highest run-getter for India in lower-order (Source: ©BCCI/Twitter)
Where does India stand among the other teams in comparison?

The Indian batters’ average is pretty mediocre when they are pitted against other heavyweights like Australia, New Zealand and England. They stand at the sixth place among 10 teams in this regard - just above Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.


England sit at the top with a stunning average of over 24, and they have easily the best & most destructive lower-order in the current era. The reason is that their bowlers have the capacity to hit the ball long, something that India’s tail-enders lack. New Zealand too have great batting depth this year and Michael Bracewell’s 140 coming at No.7 against India made sure their 7-11 contribution accumulated a massive 218 runs that game.


It is also evident from the table that the strike rate of Indian batters is lowest among all the other teams. Even associate teams, like Netherlands, have a superior return with respect to both average and strike rate. This is a cause of concern for the India team going into the World Cup.



Case in example from the recent India-Bangladesh game

Runs from lower-order are very crucial when it comes to crunch matches and it can sometimes decide the fate of the game. Even in the recent Asia Cup Super 4 game between India and Bangladesh, the latter’s lower-order (7-11) gave their best performance of the year, scoring 91 runs between them.


This proved to be highly useful as Bangladesh’s margin of win was by 6 runs over India and the Indian lower order, barring Axar Patel (42), couldn’t score runs.

Ind vs SL, 2nd T20I, Dharamsala_ Ravindra Jadeja scores unbeaten 45 off 25 balls and help India beat Sri Lanka by 7 wickets; India take series 2-0 (Image ©BCCI)
Jadeja yet to find form in 2023; averages 20 from 8 games (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)
Who are India’s best lower-order batters this year?

Player

Innings

Runs

Highest

Avg

SR

Wickets

Axar Patel

6

129

42

32.25

98.47

4

Ravindra Jadeja

8

122

45*

20.22

54.95

11

Shardul Thakur

5

58

25

11.60

100.00

19

Kuldeep Yadav

8

40

10*

8.00

45.45

31

From the table it is evident that Patel has been India’s best lower-order batter, even better than Ravindra Jadeja who is considered a great all-rounder. Unfortunately, Jadeja’s batting prowess has not come to the fore for India as far as ODIs are concerned - but he has bowled decently in the middle-overs, especially in the Asia Cup. Shardul can score important runs, but most of the time he is a real hit & miss.



Top-5 lower order batters from World Cup teams

Player

Innings

Runs

Highest

Avg

SR

Wickets

Michael Bracewell

5

239

140

47.80

128.49

5

Marco Jansen

8

202

43

33.66

109.18

11

Mitchell Santner

7

195

57

27.85

99.48

4

Rachin Ravindra

6

179

61

29.81

116.99

11

Wanindu Hasaranga

10

159

29*

19.87

138.26

28

Patel, India’s top-scorer from the lower order, is the 11th highest run-getter among his counterparts from other nations, and this shows how average the team’s lower-order outings have been. It is nothing new for Indian cricket that the tail is long, especially in the white-ball formats, and their performance with the willow really needs to improve as lower-order contributions do make a lot of difference.


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