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India vs England: Pant-Hardik Partnership In Middle Order Re-Defining India's Approach To Batting

The partnership which best showcased the new all-out attack strategy in batting for India in the ODI series against England was the one between the two most dangerous batsmen in the XI - Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya. The pair combined in the second ODI and the decider and produced match-changing innings individually and were involved in defining counter-attacking stands collectively.

India vs England: Pant-Hardik Partnership In Middle Order Re-Defining India's Approach To Batting

One of the features of India’s limited overs’ triumph against England – both in the T20I and ODI series – was the new refreshing aggressive strategy in batting adopted by the team. Virat Kohli emphasized on the need to show intent and attack throughout the innings to consistently compete with teams like England and the West Indies in the twenty and fifty over formats especially in marquee world events. His team walked the talk and did not let the captain down.

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The partnership which best showcased this new all-out attack strategy for India was the one between the two most dangerous batsmen in the XI – Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya. The two combined in the second ODI and the decider and produced match-changing innings individually and were involved in defining counter-attacking stands collectively.

Pant came out to bat at number 5 in the second ODI and hammered an unbeaten 77 off just 40 deliveries – the highlight of his knock being the 7 towering sixes! Hardik joined Pandya in the 45th over and smashed 35 off just 16 deliveries again clearing the rope with four maximums. Together they added 37 off just 13 deliveries giving the innings the necessary impetus in the middle overs and at the death.

India had a run rate of 4.94 when Pant came out to bat at number 5 in the 33rd over. By the time he was dismissed in the 47th over the run rate had soared to 6.58. India had scored a whopping 178 runs in the last 18 overs at a run rate of 9.88. Not only had they accelerated at the death but shown urgency in the crucial middle overs – India had a run rate of 9.3 scoring 93 runs in the 10 over period between the 34th and the 44th over.

This was an extremely significant development as the team had struggled to maintain the tempo in the middle overs and often lost momentum in that phase of play. While there were always world-class top order batsmen, post the era of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni, India did not find that pedigree in the middle order and lacked the firepower between overs 20 and 35 and at the death.

With England chasing down 336 India went even harder in the decider on Sunday. The depth in the lower middle order and the X-Factor provided by Pant and Hardik meant that the top three could play with more freedom in the series finale. From scoring 41 in the mandatory powerplay, India got off to a blazing start and recorded 65 in the first 10 overs in the decider. Both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan went harder at the bowling and attacked from both ends – a new ploy at the top of the order for India as traditionally Dhawan has been the aggressor and Rohit has taken his time to settle in.

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With a great platform given by the openers, India continued with their strategy to counter-attack and pushed Pant ahead of KL Rahul at number 4. Pant came out to bat with the score at 117 in 16.4 overs. By the time he was dismissed India had reached 256 in 36 overs. Pant had managed to sustain the high run-rate through the middle overs despite a spread out field – from 7.02 India’s run rate had risen to 7.11 when he exited scoring a magnificent 78 off just 62 deliveries. Pant and Hardik again combined and put together a match and series-defining partnership of 99 off just 73 deliveries. Hardik hammered 64 off just 44 deliveries.

India had a run rate of 8.14 in the middle over period between the 25th and the 36th overs which was the duration of the Pant-Hardik partnership. It gave the innings the impetus in a phase of play where India have, over the years, been sluggish and content with scoring at between 4 and 5 runs per over.

This new approach and mindset worked wonders for India in the decider as they again scored well in excess of 300. Although they were 40-50 short of what they would have ideally liked to set England, 325-plus in a high pressure series decider is always a tough ask.

This will be India’s template going forward. The openers will be more aggressive with attack from both ends in order to maximize the mandatory powerplay. Pant will be promoted to number 4 unless the team loses early wickets. And the firepower provided by Pant and Hardik in the middle and lower-order coupled with the class of Rahul at number 5 would mean that the goalpost changes from 300 to 350 for India in the 50-over format.

Not only does a Pant-Hardik type pair in the middle-order change the dynamics of how India approaches the middle overs but also forces the top-order to play more aggressively.

It is a well thought after and planned strategy by the think-tank. It is about maximizing your resources and get high gains from taking high risks. The team can always fall back on a Kohli or a Rahul should the need arise.

The same method has paid rich dividends for England in the format. They have attacked and counter-attacked consistently and posted big 300-plus scores and went on to lift the coveted World Cup in 2019 and move to the number one rankings in ODI cricket based on this approach and mindset.

Well, now they have a challenger. And a damn good one!



Team Rankings

RankTeamPointsRating
1 New Zealand 3198 118
2 Australia 3028 116
3 India 3085 114
4 England 4326 106
5 South Africa 2499 96
FULL Ranking
RankTeamPointsRating
1 England 5405 123
2 India 6102 117
3 New Zealand 3716 116
4 Australia 4344 111
5 South Africa 3345 108
FULL Ranking
RankTeamPointsRating
1 England 6877 275
2 Australia 6800 272
3 India 10186 268
4 Pakistan 7516 259
5 South Africa 5047 252
FULL Ranking