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Cricket World Cup: India's Batting Depth Makes Them True Contenders

Chris Teale@@chris_tealeFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2015

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19:  Rohit Sharma of India celebrates after scoring his century during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup match between India and Bangldesh at Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 19, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

On the surface, India's batting lineup is dominated by the two big names of Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Both are explosive batsmen capable of putting together enormous match-winning innings, and they have stepped up as their country’s superstars.

However, in India's Cricket World Cup quarterfinal win over Bangladesh, something unexpected happened.

Neither batsman was able to reach double figures—in fact, they managed only nine runs between them.

Kohli fished at a wide one from Rubel Hossain and was caught behind, while Dhoni flashed hard and got a leading edge that was caught off the bowling of Taskin Ahmed.

With both players back in the pavilion, one might have expected India to struggle to mount a match-winning total, but they did just that as they reached 302.

That they did so was thanks in large part to the contributions of Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, who made 137 and 65, respectively, to lead the way for their side.

It is indicative of the superb depth in the Indian batting lineup, which is the envy of many countries, and it is something that will be crucial as they look to win another World Cup.

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19:  Rubel Hossain of Bangladesh celebrates getting the wicket of Virat Kohli of India during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup match between India and Bangldesh at Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 19, 2015 in Melbourne, Austral
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At one point or another, all of India's top six batsmen have stood up when their country has needed them, meaning the side have been capable of setting or chasing and always winning.

Kohli's 107 against Pakistan helped set the tone in their opening game, while he was supported by contributions from Shikhar Dhawan and Raina.

Dhoni hit an unbeaten 85 against Zimbabwe to help take his side home after a slight wobble at 92-4.

Meanwhile, Raina hit 110 not out from 104 balls to lead the way in that game, and he seems to be in form at the perfect time for India.

Sharma has also contributed regularly, while Dhawan's 100 against Ireland was crucial in helping India avoid defeat in what was a potential banana-skin fixture.

That does go some way in making up for the inconsistencies of other opener Ajinkya Rahane, who made 79 against South Africa but has struggled to push on since.

What it shows is that India are a force to be reckoned with when they are batting, with any one of the top six capable of playing a match-winning knock.

In addition, their depth extends into a long tail, with both Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin capable with the bat at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively.

It means Dhoni can at least be somewhat safe in the knowledge that one or two of his players should be capable of contributing in every game.

That general consistency is a hallmark of their batting, even without one standout batsman leading the way in the tournament’s run-scoring charts.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: MS Dhoni of India bats during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup match between India and Bangldesh at Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 19, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

For India's captain, it is satisfying to see his side continue to score runs, even if some individuals fail.

"I think what’s important for us is that we have scored runs in all the games, whether we batted first or chased," Dhoni said after the win over Bangladesh, per The National. "But at the same time we don’t have our batsmen in the top-five scorers list for the World Cup, which means everybody has chipped in and contributed which is a good position to be in especially in the knockout stages."

With Australia’s strong bowling lineup to come in the semifinals at the Sydney Cricket Ground, India’s batsmen will be determined to once again prove themselves as a unit.

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