Former England captain Nasser Hussain feels that the Indian team has lacked an alternative plan in major tournaments primarily due to a superb top-order that rarely fails.
Whether it is the ICC World T20 in 2014 [Yuvraj Singh got stuck at death] or the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final or the 2019 World Cup semi-final in England [top-order collapse], it has been a case of one bad match for the much-vaunted line-up when it mattered the most.
“I would say selection is where India have gone wrong over the ICC tournaments, adapting to conditions a little bit. So it’s not just about having one game plan,” Hussain told Star Sports’ show Cricket Connected.
Hussain feels that consistent performances of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in most white-ball games leaves the middle-order exposed in a high-stakes contest.
“Adapting to conditions, if it’s nibbling around and if you are in a World Cup semi-final against New Zealand and it’s doing a little bit, where is your middle-order if you are 20/2 with Kohli and Sharma out?” Hussain questioned.
“It could almost be a fault of Indian cricket that they are too good at the top of the order. When it’s good and flat, okay Kohli hundred, Sharma hundred; hundreds at the top and lads in the middle order don’t get a hit,” he added.
“....and suddenly you are 20/3 because you have come up against [Mitchell] Starc, [Josh] Hazlewood and suddenly they are four-down and struggling to get a hit. So, it’s about having a Plan B that will get them across the line, not just having a Plan A.”
Hussain stated that he’d like Virat Kohli to improve as a captain in certain areas. “So, he’s his own man, he’s got better at certain things but I’d like to see Kohli improve on. I call him the tinker man.
“Every over, you have to change the field, he is running up and changing things; he tinkers a little bit too much. As for selection, I know people say ‘what’s that got to do with Kohli’, but you got to have a plan. I think India did a lot of things well, but I’m not sure selection is one of them,” Hussain added.
Hussain also spoke about India not having a permanent No 4 in the World Cup, which hurt the team’s chances.
“Coming to a World Cup, not knowing who your No 4 is when you got so many great batsmen in India, there are selection issues that need to be sorted out, but the whole point of captaincy is to win games of cricket. And if you look at Kohli’s record as a captain, it is right up there with the best there’s ever been.”