India captain Virat Kohli on Saturday said it will be tough for India to win ICC events unless the middle-order steps up and delivers in pressure situations if the top-order has a rare failure. India, who last won an ICC event back in 2013 (Champions Trophy), have often been described as a top-heavy team, relying on big contributions from either the skipper himself or his deputy Rohit Sharma. The focus this year is on the T20 World Cup and Kohli, in his first media interaction of the year, spoke about his expectations from his fellow teammates.
"We need guys who are ready till numbers six and seven to win you games. It can't be dependent on two guys or three guys in the batting line-up. You know, that's not how you win ICC tournaments," said Kohli ahead of T20I series opener against Sri Lanka.
"So that's our main focus to reveal situations to guys and expect them to come into their own and become those fearless match winners that we should have going into a big tournament."
Shreyas Iyer has delivered ever since his comeback but has not been tested enough in tense situations. Rishabh Pant, on the other hand, has been criticised for not being consistent enough.
"These next few series is going to be very exciting to see who stands up in pressure situations, how they react when may be Rohit or myself or KL or Shikhar at the top have not fired."
Similarly, with the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar injured and Mohammed Shami rested, this series will be an opportunity for the likes of Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur to make their selection case for the T20 World Cup in Australia in October-November.
"I think because the tournament is in Australia, you will need these many options and back-ups ready to be able to take firstly your strongest XI or strongest squad and then have those back-ups in place, who also can come and do the job.
"It''s good that we identify five or six guys and it will be priority based on you know who goes and then back-ups will be in place. Also with fast bowlers, we know small niggles can happen every now and then. So yeah, we''re pretty sorted in that regard not worried at all."
At the top, Kohli, however, conceded that he will be in a difficult position once Rohit Sharma returns after being rested for this series.
"As far as the series is concerned, it's pretty straightforward. Both of them will start (Dhawan and Rahul). But when Rohit comes back, you know, it's going to be a difficult thing to address because Shikhar has been an experienced player but KL is playing so well.
"So I think we'll have to decide what is the best combination that we can go with and who are the best XI to take the field," he concluded.