India's best bets for Number 4 and Number 6 in ODIs
The Indian team has quite a settled squad other than the middle order. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have been phenomenal as openers and which is why KL Rahul has been a backup opener till now. Virat Kohli is exceptional at number 3 and is likely to bat at his favourite position in the West Indies series.
Hardik Pandya when fit will be India's first choice as all rounder even though Jadeja did perform well in the Asia Cup.
Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar will be India's first go to seamers and it is highly unlikely India opt for someone else. Both have been rested for the West Indies series and are likely to be back for the Australian series.
For the West Indies series, India has Shardul Thakur, Mohammad Shami, and Khaleel Ahmed as the pacers. Khaleel impressed in his debut series and if he performs well in the West Indies series he will put forward his name for the Australian series. In the spin department, Kuldeep and Chahal have been doing really well and Ravindra Jadeja is the only other option India currently have as another spinner.
If Ravindra Jadeja plays really well and delivers all-round performances with both bat and ball it is likely that both Pandya and Jadeja can be in the eleven. If that happens India have to play with 4 batsmen, 1 wicketkeeper, 2 all-rounders and 4 bowlers. The other option can be to have a specialist batsman and drop either Kuldeep and Chahal with India going in with 3 main bowlers and 2 all rounders.
If MS Dhoni is in the side then the best position for him to bat is at number 5. Number 6 should be given to someone who has finishing abilities. If MS bats at number 5 then number 4 and number 6 are left for grabs.
Let us look at the players who are India's best bets for these positions.
Indian middle order didn't get much opportunity to bat in the Asia Cup mainly because the Indian openers were very consistent with the bat.
Dinesh Karthik did get a few starts but he didn't fully utilize the opportunities he got in the Asia Cup. He did play well but didn't leave a mark which could confirm his place in the side. That is perhaps the reason why the selectors have axed him from the ODI squad against West Indies.
Manish Pandey just got one opportunity with the bat in the Asia Cup in which he failed to showcase his potential. His too has been axed.
KL Rahul is unlikely to bat at number 4 given his poor record in the middle order.
Ambati Rayudu played really well in the just concluded Asia Cup. He did score consistently except in the final. Ambati Rayudu batted at number 3 in the Asia cup but with Virat back, Rayudu will have to bat at number 4. Rayudu is an excellent player of spin and also attacks spinners really well. He also rotates the strike which is really important in the middle overs. He is currently the best batsman for the number 4 spot.