Problem No. 4 for Team India

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By Akarsh HP

The last ODI series, for India, before the World Cup, ended a few days ago with India losing 3-2 to Australia. Going from 2-0 up and then losing 3-2 wasn’t the only negative outcome of the series.

India’s long standing problem of No.4, which they hoped to fix in the by-gone series, continued to haunt them.

Since the 2015 World Cup, India has tested more than 10 batsmen at the No. 4 position including Virat Kohli. Let’s look at the stats of some of these players who have played at the position for at least six  innings.

Virat Kohli. PC: BCCI

Let’s begin with Ambati Rayudu. Since coming back to the team, he has been the selectors’ favourite playing almost every other series. Out of all the players who have been tested, he has played the maximum innings at the fourth position i.e 14 innings. In those 14 innings, he has scored 464 runs at an average of 42.18 with a strike rate of 85.60. Though the numbers look decent enough, Rayudu has failed to prove that he is trustworthy at the required position.

MS Dhoni too has been tested at the fourth position having played 12 innings and scoring 448 runs. With an average and a strike rate of 40.72 and 76.84 respectively, MSD is a serious contender and an option which could yield fruitful results for the team. Though, in last few years, he has not been the explosive finisher we had known him for, he is now more careful in pacing his innings and thereby looking at the bigger picture which is a good sign for the team. Being the most senior player in the team, he is expected to deliver at that position if he is asked to play there. While most of them on the internet think his career is done and dusted, I would like to still believe that he is an important asset to the team going into the World Cup.

Another player who has been on this exercise is the almost forgotten, Ajinkya Rahane. I must admit that I have not been able to understand his career. From being regarded as the rightful successor of Rahul Dravid to not being in the probable list for the World Cup of many analysts, it’s been one rocky career.

Having scored 420 runs with 46.66 average and 92.71 strike rate in 10 innings, he, at least for me, should be one of the strong contenders for the position. Dinesh Karthik is yet another exciting player on this list. I remember watching him first at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in a Ranji trophy match and since then I have loved his game and also his resilience. Time and again he has proved himself in the domestic circuit and kept knocking the team’s door.

With that knock against Bangladesh, he has managed to tell the world that he can be an explosive batsman too.

DK has scored 264 runs in 9 innings at an average of 52.80 with a strike rate of 71.35. After the India Australia series, we can safely say that he might be a better wicket-keeper than Rishab Pant and this might as well make the difference for him when that final list is announced.

 Another player who is not forgotten and was also the man of the tournament in the 2011 World Cup is Yuvraj Singh. With the limited opportunities provided, he has managed to score 358 runs in 9 innings (including a century) at an average of 44.75 with a strike rate of 97.54. You cannot write this man off. He still remains one of the best left hander India has ever produced. It would be really interesting to see if he gets a call back because a man who has fought cancer can fight anything.

Apart from these, there are few other players who can be an option at no.4. They are – Vijay Shankar, Rishab Pant and Manish Pandey. However the stats of these players aren’t enough to judge them at this position.

Whether the selectors will go by these stats or will they go by the current form of the players is something we have to wait and see. Can IPL have a say in the selection? It will be a really interesting month ahead.

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