All eyes rest on Virat Kohli's team selection as India gears to play its first match of the Cricket World Cup 2019 against South Africa. The Indian team has been in good shape lately and have played with the right balance to register some crucial wins in the past two years. However, the number four spot has been a long debated topic in the team.
With every player in the team being made aware of his game plan and responsibility, it is the number four spot that has given the selectors and the team management some major headaches. However, K L Rahul's comprehensive hundred in a practice match against Bangladesh has somewhat sealed his place at number four spot in the team.
Yet, there is another school of thought that circles around Dinesh Karthik, who was brought into the side as a back-up to MS Dhoni and could well fit into the number four spot at some point in the tournament.
Here are four reasons why Dinesh Karthik would be an ideal fit for the number four position.
#1 Rahul suits better in the opening slot
It is true that K L Rahul is an opener and prefers to play at that position, but his chances slim out ahead of a settled opening pair of Rohit and Shikhar. With the immense pressure and contention for finding a spot in the playing eleven, it is obvious that players often throw down the gauntlet and push themselves to prove their contention.
Rahul's has been a similar case. He possesses opulent talent but possibly suffering the same fate as of Gambhir or any other opener who played in the Sachin-Sehwag era. More often than not, he warms the benches or carries drinks for his teammates. However, in this World Cup, he appears to be determined, and is up for the challenge of playing in the middle-order.
But a question still looms- What if his services are required as an opener in the latter stages of the World Cup? Would he then play as an opener, a role that he has often enjoyed, leaving the spot vacant at No.4?
#2 Karthik's utility as a middle-order batsman
In this view, Dinesh Karthik comes into play. When the speculations of finding a dependable middle-order batsman were under way, one name that stood tall was of Dinesh Karthik. He is experienced, possesses a balance of defense and attack in his batting style, and can finish the games if required. He has manifested himself into a finisher of late and has played some impactful innings to vindicate this claim.
However, his omission from the ODI side for the series against Australia, just before the World Cup, was nothing but a bolt from the blue. It almost ended his chances for the World Cup and shut the doors behind his back. But, looking at his IPL heroics and an extended form and contribution in the ODI and T20I, selectors decided to stick with Karthik's experience and take him with the team to England.
Dinesh Karthik has also been selected as a backup wicket-keeper, ahead of Rishabh Pant, and brings utility to the team. Karthik is now an established middle-order batsman and can very well play in the middle overs.
#3 Karthik's balanced batting style and ability to finish the games
His balanced batting approach would be handy in constructing the partnerships in the middle overs, and once settled, he can build the platform for finishers like Dhoni, Pandya, and Kedar to come in the final overs and capitalize on that. With a sublime blend of technique and aggression in his batting, he can himself play till the end to the finish the innings well.
#4 In case either of the openers fails
As this World cup is being played on a round-robin format, each team will get to play against every other team in the tournament. It is going to be a long tournament, and if either of the openers fails to give the desired start, with Dinesh Karthik at 4, team management and Virat Kohli will have the ease of trying K L Rahul in the opening slot without disturbing the middle order much. However, it cannot be the case if Rahul plays in the middle-order.
Dinesh Karthik is a much more of a proven finisher than Rahul. He possesses a smart and composed head to tackle tough situations while Rahul has not had a lot of the finishing duties assigned to him. Karthik's experience and mental toughness to handle pressure in critical times gives him an edge over Rahul and makes him a better prospect for the number four spot in the team.
Also read - Most runs for tenth wicket in world cupPublished 05 Jun 2019, 13:55 IST