Is Rohit Sharma the answer to India's middle-order woes?
One of the characteristics of a good Indian cricket team over the years is their batting strength. India has usually won by setting big scores and now under Virat Kohli chasing huge targets. It's hard to remember too many Indian bowling performances where the team has defended low scores.
India lost the final two one day internationals in the England series either because they couldn't chase a big score, or struggled to set a massive target for the opposition to chase.
As many analysts have been saying, "Yes, they are top heavy relying mostly on the big three - Rohit, Shikhar, and Kohli."
Sourav Ganguly thinks two of the best Indian batsmen Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul have been managed badly. There's too much chopping and changing in the middle order.
India has tried close to 10 players in the crucial No 4 slot.
Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav did fairly well in that position. Most of us thought Pandey would make the No 4 slot his own. But he didn't seem to enjoy the confidence of the captain or the team management. Both these players are no longer in the squad.
This brings us to the remaining contenders. Rahul, Iyer, Rahane, and Karthik. It's hard to see anyone else being drafted in with less than one year to go for the World Cup. KL was dropped after just one failure. Rahane was left out even after doing well in South Africa. Iyer hasn't played much. And Karthik looks like he'll do the duties of a reserve wicketkeeper, and come in only if one of the other batsmen are injured or unavailable.
The captain and team management must sit down and ask themselves "Who do we believe in the most?" Pick that player, and give him a long run, like at least 15 to 20 games, without worrying about short-term performances.
My pick is either KL Rahul or Rahane.
The other option is asking Rahane to open the batting with Shikhar Dhawan. And moving Rohit Sharma to number 4. Sharma is an experienced player and can accelerate even in the middle overs. He will be an aggressive middle-order batsman. I know he has scored a lot of runs opening the batting, but the situation now demands that he bat lower down the order.
I think India's middle order worries will be solved with Sharma batting at four and Rahane opening the batting. KL Rahul can be the reserve opener. This way everyone bats at a position that is suitable to them.
What's your take? Who do you think should bat at four?