Players who have played at number four for India since Virat Kohli took charge
With the Cricket World Cup only a few months ago, every team is in the process of fine-tuning their squads. It will only be fair to say that India is relatively better prepared than some other teams. One of the glaring issues is the middle order which has been a cause of trouble for a long time, however. The root cause of the problems lies in India's failure to find a number four. With time fast approaching, it has become a cause of a massive headache for Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri.
In the ongoing series against West Indies, Ambati Rayudu became the ninth player to bat at the position in Virat Kohli's reign as captain. Prior to the match, the Indian captain called him "the right person" for the role. While Rayudu did impress in the Asia Cup, it is the first time since his comeback that he has played at number four.
But why has India struggled with the position? Here is a look at who has played at number four for India since Virat Kohli became a full-time ODI captain.
#1 Yuvraj Singh
As soon as Kohli took charge of the limited over's team, Yuvraj Singh earned a recall to the side. The left-handed all-rounder is one of Indian cricket's greatest servants. In the shorter formats, history will remember him as one of the greatest match-winners India has ever had. The man from Punjab was India's best player in 2007 T-20 World Cup and 2011 Cricket World Cup. However, ever since his unfortunate battle with cancer, he has not hit the same heights.
A recall to the Indian side for the England series in 2017 was a debatable selection. A superb knock of 150 at Cuttack was a reminder of Yuvraj's best days. This led to a place in the Champions Trophy side for Yuvraj Singh. In his career, Yuvraj has scored 3415 runs at the position at an average of 35.20. No player has played more games at number four since Kohli's appointment than him.
In 10 matches, Yuvraj scored 358 runs at an average of 44.75 at a strike rate of 97. While these numbers sound good enough on the outset, these are heavily influenced by the century in Cuttack and his quickfire half-century in the opening match of the Champions Trophy. Apart from those two knocks, Yuvraj did not even score a 50 in any game.
The 2011 World Cup's Man of the Tournament was taking too long to accelerate and hurting India's momentum in the middle overs. Above that, having a 36-year-old was never a long-term solution for India with his fitness and agility issues.