India’s probable XI for Asia Cup: Sportsrush presents before you possible answers on who should bat at No. 4 for India in ODIs?
India’s selection conundrum regarding a No. 4 batsman just doesn’t seem to get solved. If all the names of players who have represented India at this spot post the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 are mentioned, they will in themselves construct a new squad inclusive of the playing eleven and substitutes.
A possible reason why this not-so-rocket-science subject has started to look like one is India’s over-reliance on its top three in the recent years. In Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, India have three gem of batsmen who have scored runs at will across the globe.
However, whilst this trio was busy belting the opposition bowlers, no one realized as to what would happen the day when India lose all three of them cheaply. In which has happened on several occasions in the recent past, the team has done nothing but struggle in such a situation.
It is these situations which have given birth to the murmurs regarding India not having a permanent or a capable batsman at No. 4 in ODIs. The team management and selectors having racked their brains about the issue have tried various options but have failed in their role to give an extended run to any one of them. Furthermore, chopping and changing of the playing eleven hasn’t helped India’s case either.
With the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 less than a year away, it is high time that the selectors and the management resolve this issue for it is too serious to be taken lightly.
The current squad for the Asia Cup includes three names which can be tried for this job profile. Let us access what each one of them brings to the table while batting at No. 4.
1. Dinesh Karthik – The 33-year old wicket-keeper batsman has had an uncanny international career. In a career which will turn a decade and a half old next year, Karthik has still not cemented his spot in either of India’s team.
The fact that he has been recalled into the national side five times in ODIs speak about what he promises in the domestic tournament. Just as it is high time for India to find a No. 4, it is an even higher time for Karthik to register bulk of runs for India.
Karthik’s inconsistency ranges from his performance to his batting position. Having batted in all positions from No. 1 to No. 7 in ODIs, Karthik has been used as a floater sort of batsman for India over the years. In the 68 innings that he has played for India, the second-highest (15) have come at No. 4.
Before making his comeback into the team in the ODI team this time, Karthik had emerged as the highest run-scorer in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2016-17. He had scored 607 runs in matches at an average of 86.71 and a strike rate of 102.01. Apparently, all those nine innings had come at No. 4, which is enough of a signal for the team management to play him there.
In the last seven innings that he has played for India, he has remained not-out four times (scoring a half-century twice). Therefore, persisting with him can turn out to be best for the team.
2. Manish Pandey – Pandey, who did not get out to score 306 runs in four matches at a strike rate of 100.99 in the recently concluded quadrangular series, has made a special case for himself to play at No. 4.
Pandey, who has turned 29 today, has a game tailor-made for No. 4. He has it in him to ‘Take the time initially and go for the big shots eventually’. Many might question his technique but his temperament is the answer for those people. Pandey averages a decent 39.27 and has a strike rate of 93.10 in the 22 ODIs that he has played for India.
In which was only his third innings, Pandey had scored a career-best 104* while chasing 331 against Australia at Sydney in 2016. Apparently, Pandey had come out to bat at No. 4 in that match. Perhaps, not been given a consistent run at No. 4 has affected his numbers. He has been shuffled between No. 4 (7), 5 (5) and 6 (5) in the 17 ODI innings that he has played so far.
Perhaps, a consistent run at this spot will yield out the best results out of him. On a personal note, Pandey should also realize that converting his starts into substantial totals is key to earning the No. 4 spot. There is no point in looking good for 30-odd runs and not converting it into a 70-80 or even a hundred.
3. Ambati Rayudu – It is surprising how there are moments when the Indian selectors pick a player for the ODI team based on his performance in the IPL (Indian Premier League). That being said, it is even more surprising when the selectors drop a player who averages 50.23 in ODIs. Supposedly, that is even now!
Rayudu’s last five innings for India have given returns of 44, 124*, 41, 62* and 41*. For someone who averages 156 in his last five innings to not play another match for a couple of years is bewildering.
Out of Rayudu’s 30 ODI innings, 10 (second-highest after No. 3) have come at No. 4. Although both his centuries have come at No. 3 and he averages more at that position, he has it in him to bat at No. 4 for the Indian side.
Much like Pandey, Rayudu was also among the runs in the recently held quadrangular tournament, scoring 187 runs in four matches at an average of 62.33. His credentials fit into the requirements for the No. 4 slot provided he receives backup from the management.
Numbers of all three batsmen reveal that they have been victims of continual changes in the line-up. With the World Cup not far away, the team management should be looking to stabilize the batting order than adding more possibilities to it. All three of these batsmen have enough potential of becoming India’s permanent No. 4. Its’s just that they should be no longer shifted up and down the order.
Having said that, since Dinesh Karthik was in the squad for the ODI series in England and played only one match, he should be the first in the priority list to play at No. 4 against Hong Kong at Dubai on September 18.
India’s probable XI for the Asia Cup: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal.