India vs Australia 2020: The number 4 conundrum continues to haunt India
There was a lot of anticipation and excitement about the ODI series between India and Australia, but in the end, the first ODI turned out to be a one-sided affair as Australia completely thrashed India by 10 wickets at the Wankhede Stadium on the 14 January, 2020. Even though the scoreboard suggests the bowlers might not have done well but the bigger reason for the loss was the batsmen failing to put up a big score. The pitch at Wankhede is a pretty flat one and you expect a team like India to score at least 300 on such a wicket. But India was bowled out for 255 in 49.1 overs.
One of the main reasons for the batting failure was the change in the batting order. The best No.3 batsman in the world pushed himself to No.4 to accommodate all the three Indian openers. In the last couple of years, the Indian team has been winning because of their top three batsmen. India has the best top two batsmen in the world in the ODI format. So, the question to be asked is why did India try to fix something which wasn’t broken in the first place?
The Indian captain who averages close to 60 in the ODI format has scored 62 runs in his last 7 innings at No.4. In the last seven innings, he averages just above 10 at the position which he batted in the first ODI. It is funny that the debate which was going on before the World Cup, the reason why India lost the World Cup and the debate six months after the World Cup is still the No.4 position.
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Virat Kohli was asked about the No.4 position in the post-match presentation and he mentioned that they wanted to make a place for KL Rahul who is batting superbly at the moment and he even said that there is no need to panic as this just one game and I am allowed to experiment with my position. Yes, he is allowed to experiment with his position but the numbers are suggesting that the experiment is not working. So, the other question comes to mind is how do you fit the three openers?
Rohit Sharma is the second-best batsman in the 50-over format so he isn’t going anywhere. What about Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul? The truth is that only one of them can play because Virat Kohli has to bat No.3. Virat Kohli is India’s best batsman, in fact, he is the world’s best batsman and you should allow your best batsman to play the maximum number of balls. India is weakening its strength to strengthen its weakness which should not be the case. So, who among KL Rahul and Dhawan sits out?
Shikhar Dhawan might not be a good T20 player but he is a mighty good ODI player. His ODI numbers will tell you the same story. Dhawan was part of the World Cup but unfortunately got injured and KL Rahul took his position. In the meanwhile, The Karnataka bastman scored a lot of runs which is making it hard for the team management to choose between them. There is no doubt that KL Rahul should be the opener in the shortest format but in the ODI format, Shikhar Dhawan deserves to be in the team. Both have pretty similar numbers in this format and in that case, you go with the experienced player. What happens with KL Rahul? He has to wait. There is no other option but to wait till he gets his chance. There are so many talented players who are waiting for their chance but that’s the nature of sport only 11 can play at a time.
Having said that, KL Rahul will play the next game because India’s wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant has been ruled out of the second ODI. Now the interesting thing to see would be where he bats, whether he continues in the No.3 position or he is pushed down to No.4. Kohli’s experiment at No.4 is not working and if India wants to win the series then they should stop fixing things which weren’t broken.
Also read: India vs Australia 2020: 'I am allowed to experiment a little bit and fail at times', says Virat Kohli
Modified 16 Jan 2020, 16:23 IST