The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 will begin on May 30 and India have limited number of ODI games to play before they head into the mega event.
After the conclusion of the ongoing T20I series against New Zealand, India will pay a home series consisting of three T20Is and five ODIs against Australia before the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Recently, Team India’s head coach Ravi Shastri, when asked about the flexibility in the current ODI batting line-up, was open to the idea of sending Virat Kohli at number 4 if needed.
Shastri is mulling to send the Indian skipper to bat at No. 4 to protect him in bowling-friendly conditions during the World Cup in England. Shastri said Kohli at No. 4 can make the batting unit more stronger.
“The good thing about this Indian top-three is we can separate them, if conditions and situations demand. Someone like Virat Kohli can go to number four, and we can put a good number three to bring more balance to the batting line-up,” Shastri told Cricbuzz.
“That’s flexibility for you, and for big tournaments like the World Cup, you have to be flexible to see what’s the best balance for the side. So we will decide that [accordingly in England]. We will assess that on seeing conditions there in England. You don’t want to be 18-3 or 16-4 in a big tournament. I don’t care about bilateral ODIs, but why should I lose my best batsman early in a World Cup match (if the conditions are bowler friendly)?” he added.
Ambati Rayudu showed his prowess with a match-winning knock of 90 in the Hamilton ODI and Shastri said he can be an option at number three.
“Yes, maybe Rayudu, or someone else, could bat at number three, and Kohli comes in at number four. We wouldn’t want to disturb the opening combination. Separating the top-three could make the batting stronger.”
Shastri said Rayudu’s innings eased his worries to an extent and his unorthodox style of batting can be an X factor for the team.
“… the one quality Rayudu has, he can be very unorthodox. With the way he bats, he can be an x-factor for us. He will play shots that are unconventional at times, but they can be very effective,” he further added.
Although many have pondered on the possibilities of having MS Dhoni at No. 4, it doesn’t seem like the former India skipper will play at a position other than No. 5 role that Kohli has backed him for.