You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Freedom of expression allowing Indian batsmen to prosper

India Today logo India Today 18-02-2016

India's top-order is now the envy of the world.

After the Fab-Five faded away, crushing defeats in Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa raised big concerns. Where would India get their next generation of run-machines? 

Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly scored 105,512 runs betweem themselves till Sehwag played his last Test in the summer of 2013.

By the time Sehwag was sacked because of constant failures, the onus was largely on Virat Kohli, who was just finding his feet in Test cricket and was beginning to look ominous in limited-overs cricket. Rohit Sharma would play a gem here and a gem there in ODIs but he was several months away from his maiden Test cap. And then came Shikhar Dhawan with a blisteringly fast hundred on debut against the touring Australians that made India forget Sehwag.

Three years later, Indian batting is back to dominating the world. Virat Kohli is placed second in the International Cricket Council's rankings for batsmen while Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are at fifth and ninth respectively. Limited-overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has not had a great run lately, features at no.12.

Indian batsmen haven't had it that well in Test cricket even if the team is perched right on top of the ICC's rankings. Playing on the turning pitches of Sri Lanka and India have not helped batsmen boost their averages but still three of them - Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay appear in the top 20.

That's not the end of it. Kohli is second in the ICC's rankings for T20 batsmen - he had in fact topped the list briefly after accumulating 199 runs in India's 3-0 whitewash of Australia a few weeks back.

Rohit, who top-scored in the five-match ODI series against Australia with 441 runs, said it was the freedom to express themselves that has allowed the current crop of Indian batsman to bully international attacks once again.

"Yes, we have a lot of freedom to express ourselves. When you see us playing on the field, I guess you can make that out. This batting unit, especially, is fearless," he told the Times of India.


Sometimes Rohit and even Dhawan have been blamed for playing expansive shots early in their innings. But the stylish Mumbai batsman said their constant attempts to play those aggressive shots without getting their eyes in should not be seen as a sign of arrogance or over-confidence.

"We want to go out there and achieve the best possible result. Sometimes, things work and sometimes they don't. Maybe to an outsider, it comes across as a sign of arrogance. But that's not the case."

"People need to understand that it's not over-confidence. It's just confidence in each other that we're taking into every game. This is how we feel inside the dressing room and I wish an outsider gets the correct picture."

Rohit credited Team India director Ravi Shastri and batting coach Sanjay Bangar for ironing out the flaws in his and his colleagues' techniques. Kohli, who had a relatively quiet year, was the second-highest scorer in the ODI series in Australia, amassing 381 runs, including two successive hundreds.

A lot goes on behind the scenes for the stars to churn up these numbers, Rohit said.

"The support staff and individuals like Ravi Shastri have made a lot of difference to this side. They've given us the space to go out there and express ourselves.

"A lot of credit goes to Sanjay Bangar as well. He's been doing a lot of work behind the scenes, spending lot of time with batsmen, creating a positive environment," Rohit said.

India's top-three - Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli - have ensured India are no pushovers even on international tours. Yes, they lost the ODIs 4-1 against the world champions in their own den but their efforts ensured the hosts had to chase big totals on every occasion. Once, India came close to overhauling a record target and then they finally got there in Sydney to sign off with a consolation victory.

The story does not just end with these three. There is Manish Pandey waiting to unleash his muscles while the likes of Sarfaraz Khan and Rishabh Pant are waiting in the wings to carry on the legacy of the Fabulous Five.

More from India Today

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon