India vs Australia 2020: Have India learned from their mistake of sending Virat Kohli at No. 4?
News of Virat Kohli batting at number 4 during the first ODI against Australia would have been music to the ears of India's opponents.
Kohli is easily the best ODI batsman of the current era. And by shifting him down the order, the Indian think tank in a way made sure that the best ODI batsman would face fewer deliveries than usual. That goes against the notion that your best batsman should get the opportunity to face maximum number of balls during an ODI innings.
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Another thing that Kohli is famous for is his ability to finish an innings and in the process score big hundreds. Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul both got out after getting set, which Kohli seldom does. If either Dhawan or Rahul would have carried on and scored a hundred, India would have scored at least 300 - which would have been a competitive total, as the pressure of a big score often makes the opposition do silly things.
India eventually scored 255, which was a below-par total on the Mumbai track. It provided the Australian openers the luxury of taking their time to settle down at the crease and score hundreds in the process.
Kohli came in to bat during the 28th over, when India's score was 134 for 2. In other words, the team was scoring at a rate which was less than 5 on a flat batting track. Kohli had 22 overs to regain the momentum and while also getting set at the crease, which was too much to ask.
Another thing that goes in favor of Kohli batting at number 3 is his ability to score at a brisk rate against both pace and spin. That makes sure the momentum is not lost when spinners come to bowl during the middle overs of an ODI innings.
Rahul, the new occupant at number 3, is known to struggle against quality spin bowling - which in turn would hurt the momentum during the middle overs. That's exactly what happened during the Mumbai ODI.
India had made a similar mistake during the 2007 World Cup, when Sachin Tendulkar was moved down the order to bat at number 4. Needless to say, the results were catastrophic.
The Indian think tank should try to correct their blunder by moving Kohli back up the order for the second ODI. This is a three-match series, and India can't afford to lose another match. If getting Kohli back to No. 3 means dropping Rahul or Dhawan from the team altogether, then they should not hesitate to do so.Modified 15 Jan 2020, 17:29 IST