Should Virat Kohli play at #4 in the 2019 World Cup?
The countdown has begun. Just one series remains before India go into the biggest ICC league, starting from 31st May. The team for this big event has almost been finalized. The men in blue, who will be led by Virat Kohli, will be the biggest favorites to win the world cup.
Ravi Shastri, in a recent statement, had hinted that Virat Kohli might be sent at number 4, to further strengthen the Indian batting lineup. Although this experiment might prove to be a match-winning one, this might raise some issues as well. Let us take a look at each of the advantage and disadvantage of the same.
Let us assume that India loses their 1st wicket for 10 runs. In such a case, who will you trust to bat at number 3? Virat or some other player? Virat Kohli has often pulled the team out of pressure situations, by building a partnership and then playing the role of an aggressor to the innings. No other batsman has consistently done this. Rayudu did it against Hong Kong and in the 5th ODI against New Zealand, that's all. Pant never played such innings. Kedar did this way back against England in 2016, that too with no other than Virat at the other end.
On the other hand, the best ODI batsman in the world has done it innumerable times, most recently being 1st ODI between NZ and India, where he, along with Shikhar, helped India chase down a total of 156 on a difficult track after India lost Rohit for just 11 runs. Another recent example of his masterclass is his century against Australia in the 2nd ODI after Shikhar Dhawan got out for 32 runs.
Now comes the second case. Let us assume that the openers post a 150+ stand for the 1st wicket. When this happens, India can send an explosive batsman above Virat to accelerate the innings, so that Virat might not be pressurized to accelerate from the very first ball. For this, Rishabh Pant might prove to be the best batsman as his quick cameos of 30-35 runs in 15-20 balls might accelerate the run rate. We have seen that Pant has the ability to hit the very first ball that he faces. This will allow Virat to play his natural game.
However, it is a truth that openers cannot post 150+ stands for you in every match. Therefore, the player at number 3 might is likely to get his getting somewhere between 7-20 overs. For this Virat will definitely be a better choice than any other player, as the need of that hour won't be a cameo, but an innings to build a foundation for rest of the players to come and attack.
Hence Virat should not play at number 4 if India loses early wickets and he can be sent at no.4 if Indian openers get off to a flying start and the innings is going on at-ease.