Just months before the World Cup, India have a few problems to resolve. They have had sorted out MS Dhoni’s form with the bat, with the former Indian skipper bagging man of the series award in the 2-1 ODI series win over the Aussies Down Under. Dhoni posted three fifties in three ODIs at an average of 193. But there’s one nagging problem that has been hurting India for a while now in the ODIs.
India have not been able to sort out their No 4 woes despite trying many players for the position. It looked Ambati Rayudu has solved the puzzle during his performance at no 4 in the ODI series vs West Indies. But his rustiness in the two ODIs he played in the series Down Under made Indian captain Virat Kohli and the team management to think again. They asked Dhoni to play at No 4 in the series decider at Melbourne. Dhoni guided India to 2-1 series win with a knock of 87* in the Melbourne ODI.
India are back to square one now and have only a handful of ODIs to finalise the No 4 spot. So, who should bat for India at No 4 in ODIs?
Cricwizz takes a look at the possible players who should be the best at No 4 for India in ODIs.
Rohit Sharma has backed his former skipper for the No 4 spot. He says Dhoni has the skills, patience and temperament to do the job for India at No 4. But Dhoni’s strike rate has fallen over the past couple of seasons as he has found it difficult to rotate the strike. He can be best utilised lower down the order at No 5 or 6 when quick runs are needed or someone with a cool head to take India across the finish line. Dhoni has done it numerous times in his career and can do so again. His experience to finish off games will come handy at No 5 or No 6.
Dhoni reinvented Rayudu’s limited-overs career by asking him to the open the innings in IPL 2018. His IPL performances got him a national call-up and he did not disappoint at the No 4 spot during the ODI series against West Indies.
But Rayudu’s inconsistency has been his biggest bane. He was rusty and looked out of sorts in the two ODIs he played for India in Australia. The No 4 spot is vital for a team’s perspective as this player has to carry forward the good work done by the top-order or resurrect the innings in case of early wickets. Rayudu has shown he has the capabilities to do so in the ODI series against West Indies. But only if he adds consistency to his game.
India have shown tremendous faith in Dinesh Karthik who is playing solely as a batsman now for India due to the presence of MS Dhoni. And Karthik has not done badly, playing a useful cameo of 25* in the Adelaide ODI to help India level the series.
But the team management has given Karthik a role of a finisher at No 6, thanks to Dhoni’s waning finishing skills. Karthik is trusted to bat with the tailenders and bail India out in tense chases or in top-order collapses or put up quick runs to add meat to the total while batting first.
Karthik has the skills to do the job of an anchor at No 4 for India. He can be tried at No 4 to build an innings, while Dhoni, who has rediscovered his touch, does the finishing act.
He has not batted at No 4 much. But India can experiment with Jadhav for this role. Kedar is a street-smart cricketer who can steal easy ones and twos and score the unorthodox shots to get the boundaries. He can keep the run-rate going at more than a run per ball at No 4 with his smart batting.
He can help India keep the momentum going in the middle-overs. With Karthik, Dhoni to follow, Jadhav can play his natural game at No 4 and take India to a position of strength with two veterans set to follow after him and finish off the game.
The Dark Horse for India
Rahane did the job at No 4 for India in the 2015 World Cup. But BCCI and the team management has relegated him to Test cricket despite impressive performances at the top of the order in limited-overs cricket.
But with India struggle to fix a cricketer for the No 4 spot, India may have to fall back on Rahane to do the job for India in the 2019 World Cup. In England, India would require a player with good technique to counter the movement and swing. And none better than Rahane to do so. But will India go back to the discarded Rahane once again?