Opinion: Should Virat Kohli bat at Number 4?
Leadership is about making sacrifices for the betterment of your team. Sometimes, you have to give up something that benefits you for the greater good of the team. However big a player you may be but eventually, no personal milestone is superior to the interest of the team.
Sourav Ganguly formed a formidable opening pair with Sachin Tendulkar but he was ready to push himself down the order to allow Virender Sehwag to open. This move worked wonders as Sehwag went on to become one of the greatest openers world cricket has ever seen.
It requires far-sightedness and obviously the guts to go out of your comfort zone. How well you do it will define your legacy as a captain. The Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli may go down the same route as coach Ravi Shastri has revealed that they may consider Kohli batting at number 4 in certain matches. Shastri clearly could not have made such a major statement without a discussion with Kohli.
This move may be based on the fact that India has not found a reliable number 4 batsman for quite some time now. Last year, India was keenly interested in KL Rahul, but the management understood that he could bat only in the top 3. So, Kohli batted at number 4 in T20Is and a couple of One-Day Internationals in England last year. KL scored a century in a T20I and then just tapered off after that.
Given the collapses the Indian top-order has been facing in recent times, Kohli, being the best batsman in the team, must have thought of taking the responsibility of the middle order upon himself. However, if you have the best One-Day International batsman in your line-up, you want him to face as many balls as possible.
The question, therefore, is why hold him back?
India's strength in the last two-three years has been the formidable top 3. So why separate them? They have won so many matches on their own. Why change this winning mantra?
Virat Kohli has set an extremely high benchmark, batting at number 3. It is a possibility that no one will be able to achieve what Kohli has achieved at number 3. His batting performances have made his personal statistics as good as anyone in the history of One-Day cricket.
He has been the biggest match-winner for India in recent times. He has created a massive impact by batting at number 3 and has built himself quite a reputation in world cricket. Bowlers are afraid of bowling to him.
So get him out there early. Keep the opposition under pressure.
A captain needs to do what his team needs. In this case, the team needs Kohli batting at number 3. The most important position in the line-up must be occupied by the very best.
Even if he bats at 4, who will bat at 3? Rayudu is good but he is nowhere close to being as prolific at number 3 as Kohli is. Kohli can play an anchor role at number 3 extremely well. His strike rate remains in the 90s though he hardly hits the ball in the air.
He runs tremendously hard between the wickets and keeps the scoreboard ticking. When it comes to hitting big at the back end of the innings, he has got all the shots in the book.
Therefore, he's the perfect number 3 that any team can dream of. Let him be there. It will serve the team perfectly. Rayudu perhaps has done a decent enough job to bat at number 4. If there are still worries about Rayudu, they can turn to their crisis man, MS Dhoni. He will take care of the number 4 position.
When Kohli and MS Dhoni bat together at 3 and 4, it's quite a sight to watch two of the greatest one-day batsmen of all time batting together.
Keep Virat Kohli at number 3. It is a position which only he can do justice to.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not necessarily represent the views of Sportskeeda.