However much the bowling standards have improved over the years batting has always been Indian cricket’s traditional strength. And yet at the press conference before the team’s departure for Australia Virat Kohli made it a point to mention that it was up to the batsmen to ''show more character’’. While expressing his satisfaction about the bowling attack at his disposal(''after a long time we feel like we can take 20 wickets every game’’) he hoped that the batsmen would rise to the occasion

Kohli hit the nail on the head for it has been batting problems that have been the cause of failures in South Africa, England and Australia. Quite often the bowlers have performed higher than their level only for the batsmen not playing up to their potential. The recent tour of England was a case in point. The series was lost 4-1 largely due to batting failures. The captain can straightaway be exempted from any criticism for he was head and shoulders above his teammates. But the rest of the specialist batsmen did not live up to their reputation. Totals of 274, 162, 107, 130, 274, 184, 292 and 345 in the four Tests they lost represent a below par performance considering the star status of the line-up

It was pretty much the same situation in South Africa on the last tour there earlier this year. The Indian totals in the three Tests were 209, 135, 307, 151, 187 and 247. They won the final Test with the last two scores only because the gallant bowling made up for the shoddy batting. Again Kohli played the heroic role even as the other batsmen failed leaving the bowlers to salvage whatever they could. . .

Kohli also made another valid point of the lower order not contributing with the bat. It happened in England and perhaps this was the main reason for India losing the series. This was one area in which England excelled. With the likes of Ravi Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant likely to man the No 6 to No 8 slots the runs they contribute could be vital to India’s chances of winning a Test – and even the series. For that matter Bhuvneshwar Kumar with a career average of 22 with three half centuries can also make valuable contributions.

The skipper also summoned his boys to be ''fearless’’ and spoke about the need for every individual to take on more responsibility so that the team could put in a complete performance. Given the abysmal record of not having won a Test series 'Down Under’ in eleven visits – and losing five of the last six contests – it was right for Kohli to strike an upbeat note. It is now up to the players to deliver and right now the onus is more on the batsmen than the bowlers.

It is not that the line-up is short of stars. The list is really endless – the captain who is the best batsman in the contemporary game, Cheteswar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul and Murali Vijay who are not far behind either in skill or experience. More to the point all of them made the tour to Australia four years ago. Add to them the promise of the newest star Prithvi Shaw and Hanuma Vihari and the late order batting which has already been discussed and there is no reason to believe that the Indian batting cannot reach great heights. They did the last time out despite the series being lost 2-0 and we saw purple batting phases from Kohli, Vijay and Rahane. Kohli got four hundreds while Vijay, Rahane and Rahul all got one each.

So the potential is there; the stars have just to live up to their reputation.