World Cup 2015: Injuries, lower middle order still areas of concern for Team India

Even the most ardent supporters of Team India would not have expected such an incredible performance from them in their first two matches of the ongoing World Cup against high-profile teams like Pakistan and South Africa. Title holders literally thrashed their opponents to kick off their campaign on a superb note. First, they tamed arch-rivals Pakistan by 76 runs in a high-voltage clash of their Cup opener to keep their winning record intact against them in the quadrennial event. And then, they broke their World Cup jinx with a thumping victory over South Africa, one of the title contenders, with a convincing 130-run win. India simply outplayed both the teams in all the departments before booking a berth in the quarter-finals by thrashing minnows UAE in a lopsided affair.

Even though India have played like true champions thus far, there are still few chinks in their armor, which MS Dhoni & Co need to work upon to create history. Let’s find out the two major issues that could trouble India in the latter part of the showpiece event.

Injury: In the first two matches, the pace battery of Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma displayed exceptional spells of fast bowling. Particularly, the troika was very impressive against the Proteas, where they entirely subdued their robust batting line up. But the leader of India's pace attack, Shami was ruled out of the match against UAE with a minor knee injury. We are well aware of the fact that Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who had been the first choice new ball bowler for Team India in the last couple of years, has been facing fitness issues of late. Though he replaced Shami in their third match, the 25-year-old didn’t look 100 percent fit.

If India lose any one of their seamers due to injury, it would become a huge headache for skipper Dhoni as Stuart Binny doesn’t have the pace to trouble a quality batting line up. It means India can’t really afford any injury to their bowlers, especially seamers. In such a scenario, a quick recovery of Shami has become imperial for the team.

Middle order: Not long ago, Indian lower-middle order was known to be among the best in world. With a match-winner like MS Dhoni coming at number six, pinch-hitter Ravindra Jadeja next and a decent batsman in Ravichandran Ashwin at eight, India have a quality middle-order capable of accelerating the run flow in the death overs with match-winning cameos. But if we go by their recent forms, they are struggling to give Men in Blue the much-needed impetus. In the first two matches of the World Cup, it seemed that India would post a 350-plus total after an excellent show by the top-order. But these three failed to live up to their reputation as India only managed to put up a total of 300 and 307 runs respectively.

Lower middle order has to come good if India need to defend their title successfully because every time Indian bowlers won’t be able to come up with remarkable performances. And secondly, what if India are chasing a big total and they need the services of these three? That’s an issue India need to address before they enter the quarter-final stages because the competition will only get tougher as the tournament progresses towards its business end.