Former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar has opined that the lack of a proper No. 4 batsman at the 2019 World Cup cost India dearly. He believes that the results could have different if the Indian cricket team had a specialist batsman at that spot.
Sunil Gavaskar spoke candidly about his own career and the current scenario in Indian cricket in a conversation on the India Today show 'eInspiration'.
The former opener was asked about the reasons behind the current Indian team coming close but not winning ICC events and if Virat Kohli had it in him to go over the line with 3 World Cups coming up over the next three years.
Sunil Gavaskar responded that it is absolutely true that Virat Kohli would have to win the world-level tournaments to be considered as a great captain.
"Agree with you. I think a captain is actually defined by the World Championships or World Cups that he wins."
Sunil Gavaskar added that while the Indian team might have won the Asia Cup, it is the victories in the World Cups that define the legacy of a captain.
"You can win the Asia Cups, which is fantastic but you also want to win the World Cup because that is where your standing as a captain is actually going to be enhanced."
Sunil Gavaskar on the problem afflicting the Indian team
Sunil Gavaskar observed that the formidable Indian top-order had been so dominant that the middle-order did not get enough opportunities to spend much time in the middle during the initial stages of the World Cup.
"What I feel is India's top 3 batting lineup is such a fabulous batting lineup that often it has happened that Nos. 4 and 5 at the initial stages of the World Cups haven't really got an opportunity to play a long innings, to get their eye in, to feel the ball in the middle of their bat."
The reputed commentator added that the Indian team was unfortunate that their top order failed to click in the crucial knockout encounter, putting a lot of pressure on the untested middle-order.
"And suddenly when your top 3 are dismissed quickly and that can happen in the odd match, unfortunately for India it has happened in a knockout game when there has not been much chance of a recovery."
Sunil Gavaskar suggested that the Indian team should look at selecting players in the middle-order who are good enough to exhibit their skills in the top three positions.
"That is where the No.4 and 5 have not been able to cope with the pressure of having lost your earlier prolific batsmen. So what we need to look at is to have somebody at 4, 5 and 6 who are very good batsmen, who otherwise would bat at No.1, 2 or 3 but because those positions are occupied, they are batting down the order."
Sunil Gavaskar signed off by stating that the mistake the Indian team management committed of not having a specialist No. 4 batsman at the 2019 World Cup cost them dearly.
"I think we made a mistake by not having a proper No.4 for the 2019 World Cup. If we had a proper No.4 for the World Cup, then it might have been a completely different story."
The Indian team had started the 2019 World Cup with KL Rahul at the No. 4 spot after Ambati Rayudu was not selected in the squad.
But an injury to Shikhar Dhawan in the game against Australia altered the equation with KL Rahul having to open the innings, leaving the Indian team to try multiple options like Vijay Shankar, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant and Kedar Jadhav in the middle order but with limited success.