The Indian team management and the national selectors are getting flak from the fans for too much experimentation with the playing XI in the matches preceding the World Cup. Those who don’t want to miss the entertainment have already bought their Cricket World Cup Final Tickets.
It’s an understandable angst, especially when after all that effort to look for various options, India is still unsure of their No. 4.
Virat Kohli has hinted that there is just one position open in the World Cup XI, so Kedar Jadhav, I guess, could be No. 5.
Here’s what I think: with the experimentation, if India wanted a settled team well before the World Cup, they would have had one immediately after the Asia Cup. Ambati Rayudu and Jadhav would have been the certain Nos. 4 and 5, with Jadhav’s side-arm offspin an added bonus.
But then India would have also been under the illusion that Ravindra Jadeja is a great value-add to the ODI team with his all-round ability, and Vijay Shankar would not have emerged as a tempting batting alternative to Rayudu as a No. 4 batsman who, if needed, could bowl a do-or-die final over in a tight game.
Making players feel secure in teams while still looking for attractive options outside it is a fine balance that the team management and selectors must maintain. Excess of either is not good.
His team management does have the tendency to go a little overboard with their chopping and changing. Maybe this is Kohli’s tendency more than anyone else’s. His decisions appear very similar to how he looks on the field – intense, animated, very energetic, and almost restless.
That India still don’t have obvious and exciting Nos. 4 and 5, like Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina when they were around, is more the fault of players who have been given these chances than those who gave it to them.
Not one of the seven to eight players tried in those positions has shown exceptional ability and, importantly, consistency in their performances in the most batting-friendly format. For a batting country like India, this is as surprising as it’s disappointing.
Manish Pandey showed promise few years back, but after scoring that wonderful hundred in Australia at No. 4 three years ago, he has averaged just 26, wasting some terrific opportunities against New Zealand at home immediately after getting that hundred.
pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Rayudu and Co never did this enough for the selectors to keep faith in them. Jadhav is a little better off here and his off spinners help him out.
The problem with all the contenders we have seen for Nos. 4 and 5 has been their consistency and ability.
His current issue with India’s likely World Cup team is that only the captain can bat as per the needs of the situation. Rohit tries but isn’t as successful; Shikhar plays more for survival than trying to lead the team to a win with the bat; and Dhoni has an approach that keeps us all on the edge of our seats.
This is interesting and perhaps one of the reasons why India don’t have a dependable No. 4. What’s really baffling is that with someone as iconic and inspirational as Kohli around, why don’t others want to bat like him?
My choice for Nos. 4 and 5 are Vijay and Jadhav respectively, but I must confess I pick them a bit grudgingly.
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