Should India try Rohit Sharma at #4 in ODIs?
Rohit Sharma, the 2nd ranked ODI batsman, is in great form of late and has powered India to its 7th Asia Cup title, the most by any team in the tournament history. Rohit also ended up being the second highest run scorer (playing one innings fewer) of the tournament, only 25 behind his partner in crime Shikhar Dhawan.
Rohit Sharma has been a completely different player ever since he started opening in the 2013 edition of the champions trophy held at England. While the Indian team has plenty to rejoice on how their top three have gone by their business in the last four years, much cannot be said about their middle order.
The middle order has been shaky, to say the least, and the Asia Cup performance just about depicts the same. India ranks 10th (Comparison from 18 ODI teams) in terms of the average for number four batting position post-2015 edition of the cricket World Cup.
India has made as many as eight changes for the number four slot since 2016. Also, India falters way behind other teams when it comes to the performance of its batsmen from four to seven.
With 238 days to go before India plays South Africa in their World Cup opener at The Rose Bowl in Southampton, India's thinktank has problems aplenty to solve its middle order conundrum. With MS Dhoni not being the same force as before, it has never been so much important for the team management.
Rohit Sharma, who plays at #4 for his IPL side Mumbai-Indians, has played in the middle order for the majority of his career and the Mumbai lad personally prefers the #4 spot. With a talent like KL Rahul warming the bench, India could well be off moving Rohit down at #4 and let the Karnataka batsman take the guard with Shikhar Dhawan.
Rohit Sharma certainly has the ability to rotate the strike in the middle phase and once the innings reaches the last phase, everyone is well aware of his hitting prowess at the end. (His strike rate in the last seven overs is a staggering 254).
With Kohli, Rohit and Dhoni at #3, #4 and #5 respectively, it gives the team the much-sought stability and the top 5 in Shikhar, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and MS Dhoni certainly looks more sturdy, to say the least.
In conclusion, India should solve their middle order crisis in the next 20 odd ODIs, starting with the home games against the Windies, and if strategised carefully Rohit could well end India's hunt for the #4 position.