The selectors led by MSK Prasad have picked young Vijay Shankar in the squad and ignored the experienced Ambati Rayudu, who, not long, was batting at number 4 for India and many, including Indian captain Virat Kohli, had said that he is going to be India’s ‘number 4’ in the World Cup 2019.
Indian team World Cup squad has been announced and the debate surrounding India’s ‘no 4’ batsman is still open. The Indian ODI Cricket Team has a no four problem and the whole world is talking about it. The 6 out of first 7 batting positions are fixed and now all the focus is on “who will bat at no 4 for India in World Cup?”
The selectors led by MSK Prasad have picked young Vijay Shankar in the squad and ignored the experienced Ambati Rayudu, who, not long, was batting at no 4 for India and many, including Indian captain Virat Kohli, had said that he is going to be India’s ‘no 4’ in the World Cup. However, the selectors had a different view and now the most talked-about spot is up for grabs again.
Let’s have a look at all the options India has for the no 4 spot.
Vijay Shankar’s selection created a big storm among Indian cricket fans, especially on social media. We have seen some great ODI players bat at no. 4 for India and in comparison, young Vijay Shankar, sadly, seems far away from their class. However, the selectors and coaching staff rate Vijay Shankar very highly and they have backed him to do the job in the all-important World Cup.
Shankar has played nine ODI matches for India and scored 165 runs at an average of 33, and his strike rate is 96.49. These are not extraordinary nos but the Indian captain Virat Kohli has put his weight behind the youngster and he believes that Shankar is a “proper batsman”.
"We tried a lot of things. There were a few combinations that we tried," Kohli told India Today.
"Eventually when Vijay came in, it was three dimensional: he can bowl, he can field, he can bat. He is a proper batsman as well. That just gave us an option, saying why not have that kind of balance which other teams have had all these years. From that point of view, we all agreed on it," Virat Kohli added.
So far, we have seen some eye-catching cameos from Shankar but the no 4 position requires more maturity and consistency.
KL Rahul has been picked as a backup opener but many fans and pundits believe that he can be a good bet for the no 4 spot, as well. Rahul’s international career has been hot and cold so far but there is a common belief among cricket commentators and pundits that he has what it takes to excel at the highest level.
KL Rahul is performing well for his IPL franchise and scoring runs consistently at the top of the order. He is one of the leading run scorers of the tournament, and there is a notable improvement in his technique and shot-selection. He is giving himself much more time to settle down by not playing too many extravagant shots in the first few overs.
Some people are suggesting that Virat Kohli should bat at no 4 and KL Rahul at 3 but this will be a very bad move as Kohli is world’s best no 3 batsman in ODI cricket and he knows how to first control and then boss the innings, from the all-important no 3 spot.
Dinesh Karthik has been in good form in limited overs cricket, for India in the last one and a half years or so. However, he has mostly batted at no 6 or 7 spots and played the role of a finisher. Also, the chief selector of India MSK Prasad has also made it clear that Karthik will feature in the playing XI only in case of an injury to MS Dhoni.
Why KL Rahul is the best option for India for the no 4
Now, it is important to understand that India's top 3—Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, and Virat Kohli have a great record in England and you can back them to give a solid start, more often than not. In the last four years, the global average of ’runs after the fall of the first 2 wickets’ is 75/2 after 14 overs. Whereas, India’s no 4 batsman comes out to bat at about 110/2 after 20 overs.
This means that the job of India’s no four is to build on good starts provided by the top three. India has two steady and reliable batsman at 5 and 6—MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav, respectively and India need a batsman who can enforce things in the middle and play attacking form of cricket, at no 4.
Considering this, KL Rahul is the best bet for India. He is a very attacking batsman, and also has experience of playing in English conditions. He can play the role of an enforcer for India and build on good starts provided by India’s ‘Big 3’. In the ongoing IPL, Rahul has improved his shot-selection and shown the ability to bat long and calm, with a good strike rate. This could also boost coaching staff and captain’s confidence in him as a middle order option for the World Cup.
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Last Updated Apr 21, 2019, 1:55 PM IST