World Cup 2019: 4 areas where India should improve
#2 Conundrum of number 4
Since the 2015 World Cup, India has tried as many as 10 options at the no. 4 position. As the pitches have started getting flat and boundaries shorter, the responsibilities at that position position have only doubled. Undoubtedly one of the most difficult positions to bat in today’s era, it requires one to take the team out of 8/2 and also to power the team to 350 when they are 200/2.
For a decade or so, Yuvraj Singh was able to do it very successfully but with his downfall, the management has failed to find a good consistent option.
Call it poor adaptation from the players or poor management by the think tank, but neither of Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Yuvraj Singh, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav or MS Dhoni has been able that make that position their own.
To be fair, the top 3 has done the bulk of scoring on almost all the crucial occasions, leaving the number 4 spot with little burden most of the times.
Ambati Rayudu’s recent performance in Asia cup and the Windies series has definitely made him the front-runner. But, who are the reserves? With the World cup still 13 matches away and the event itself of over 50 days, India cannot risk relying on just one option and traveling with a weak bench.
According to the management, they are not going to make any major changes to the team selected against Australia and if that is any indication, the only possible backup options from the current squad are Dinesh Karthik and KL Rahul.
KL Rahul is going through a very tough phase. If there one place where you don’t want to be, it is KL Rahul’s head. He has put himself in all sorts of mess and made his technical glitches look more ominous on the field. If cricket itself was not enough, his extra-curricular have only added to his tensions.
Dinesh Karthik had a breakthrough year in 2018 and featured in arguably one of the top 3 moments of Indian cricket in 2018. A backup wicket-keeper, his recent development of skills of pulling tight finishes have forced selectors to give him a longer run.
The fact remains neither of them has been able to make much of an impact at that position, which leaves India with only one genuine number 4 option in the squad. One of the best options currently not in the squad is Manish Pandey. He had an excellent 2018 domestic season, scoring tons of runs on A tours and Challenger Trophy, but his lack of secondary skills coupled with failures while donning the Indian Blue puts him second in the race behind Kedar Jadhav.
Another favorite option could have been Rishabh Pant. Riding high on an excellent series against Australia, he is capable of playing a floater from No.4 to No.6. Selectors still believe that he is in plans for the World Cup which puts him in a direct shoot out with Dinesh Karthik.