The Indian team would be stepping in familiar territory from tomorrow, as the ODI series against South Africa kicks off in Durban.
India have excelled in the format in the last few years, with stellar performances in home and away conditions. And while India seem to have figured out their core for the 2019 World Cup, a few positions still look a little dodgy, especially the number 4 batting slot.
India have tried a number of players in that position, starting out with Rahane in the 2015 World Cup, then shifting to Yuvi until the Champions Trophy last year, and then shuffling between Pandya, Jadhav and Pandey in the recently concluded home season.
Speaking to the media, ahead of the first Test, Virat Kohli has hinted that Ajinkya Rahane could be taking up the number 4 slot in the series against South Africa.
Rahane for long has been touted as the third opener for the Indian side, but Kohli feels, Rahane could be the answer to India’s number 4 woes.
“We have said that Rahane is the third opener in ODIs. But that might change. He plays pace very well and has batted at no.4 in WC before. So this could be an option going ahead” Kohli said.
Rahane was reserved just an opener after the 2015 World Cup, because of his inability to rotate strike during the middle overs.
However, Kohli feels that because Rahane plays fast bowlers really well, he could play the anchor’s role really well, especially in overseas conditions.
“We have a more or less we have sorted out core players for key positions since the Sri Lanka tour. I would say middle order (specifically No.4) is the only spot we are looking for experimentation at the moment”, Kohli added.
Rahane was drafted into the XI for the 3rd Test, after being left out for the first two tests, despite boasting of a very good overseas Test record.
But with so many people having failed at that number 4 role, and with Rahane’s resurgence in that Third test in Jo’Burg, the Indian management would be tempted to go in with Rahane, especially with his ‘current form’ being brilliant.
Rahane has scored 47, 87, 89 and 50 whilst batting at number 4 in his last 4 ODI’s for India.
The first ODI begins at 4:30 pm IST on the 1st of February.