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The 'Number' of Uncertainty at Team India's 4th Position

In 2015 world cup semi-final Australia beat India by 95 runs. Since then India's no. 4 debate refuses to die down. India has tried 10 different batsmen to overcome this problem.

Last updated: 25.09.2019
The 'Number' of Uncertainty at Team India's 4th Position | Sports Social Blog

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Australia beat India by 95 runs in 2015 world cup semi-final. And India passes over it's crown after battling their way for four years.


Since then India's no. 4 debate refuses to die down. India has tried 10 different batsmen pre 2019 ICC world cup to fill the gap and tried 2 new combination post world cup, but it would be appropriate to say that the moves have not been successful.



Stalwarts like Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni have stepped up to the fore, but not to much avail. The issue is not that simple as it appears to be and requires a serious look in.


Team India test team Vice Captain Ajinkya Rahane has been relatively successful at the No. 4 spot as compared to his counterparts. An average nearing 50 shows how important his contribution can be in the middle overs. But unfortunately team India didn't show the kind of faith he was expecting.


Next was one of the cleanest strikers of the ball for India, Yuvraj Singh. He played 9 matches with an average of 44.75. But he fell out of favour from the selectors after the ODI series in West Indies.


Former India captain and one of the finest finishers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni took it upon himself to be at No. 4. Though he did not have much success here, he did manage to hit two fifties in the process of his nine innings. There could have been no better person than Dhoni himself to take control of the team from that position. However, a flurry of players were given a run after his stint at No. 4.


It has always been a tough run for Manish Pandey whenever he has been given an opportunity. Many believed that he was the perfect No. 4 India wanted, after his maiden century batting at No. 4 while chasing a mammoth Australian target. India chased a target of 331 with two balls to spare with Pandey still at the crease. However, he failed to produce similar knocks, and could not carry on his form ahead and was soon confined to a string of low scores. This prompted the team management to look for other options.


India never stick with one player and that's what problem of plenty is. Dinesh Kartik was the next alternative which India tried, he averaged 71 in his 5 innings but wasn't convincing enough for the management to keep him in that position.


Afterwards, India also tried KL Rahul, Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Rishab Pant, Shreyas Iyer but all of them failed miserably. It was 2018, 3 years after the world cup semi-finals and still we couldn't find our no.4. But one of the strangest story that will be ever recorded in the history of Indian cricket is the story of Ambati Rayudu. He Started getting picked from Asia cup and plays virtually every one day international that India played with an average of 48 and just before the world cup selection, he was found out of form. Even Virat Kohli said that "Ambati Rayudu has locked down the no.4 spot and he is not going to try anyone else". But as the world cup came closer and closer Rayudu was struggling for runs.


In an interview, Team India's head coach Ravi Shastri stated that Indian captain Virat Kohli can make the batting unit more strong at no.4 and this could balance the side. 


After 4 years of confusion and uncertainty, the day arrived, 15 April when India announced its world cup squad for 2019 world cup. While most places in the squad are more or less settled, the No. 4 position in the batting line-up is one that is likely to be discussed. India have tried multiple players on that spot since the 2015 World Cup, but nobody was able to capitalize the opportunity.


With MSK Prasad as your selector you just can not predict every time he shows us a new dimension and the same was depicted in the squad for 2019 world cup. There were some obvious picks but the inclusion of Shankar ahead of likes for Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu was never expected. Who would have thought that after 4 years we would go with Shankar as our no. 4. The man who had only played 5 matches would get selected in the biggest stage. 


Despite showing enough temperament and skill Rayudu lost his world cup spot to a seam bowling all rounder who has only (no. Of matches) to his name. Even though Shankar looked promising in his few appearances for the Indian team, one might say that it was way too early to pick him for the mega event.


The things did not end up here as Rahul was picked ahead of 3 dimensional Shankar and the way he was playing, 1.3 crore Indians almost accepted him as there no. 4. But it seemed that even the god did not want India's no.4 problem to be resolved. As the things looked settled, Shikhar Dhawan got injured against Australia after scoring a brilliant century and he was ruled out from the tournament. Afterwards, India have to change their opening combination and promoted the settled Rahul. And because of this Shankar, the 3-dimensional player got a chance against arch-rivals Pakistan to prove every Indian wrong who was against his selection. He got Imam-ul-Haq on his first delivery and afterwards bowled the captain Sarfaraz Ahmed.


He came not out by scoring 15 in 15 and was a real positive for team India. But unfortunately he also got injured and Rishabh Pant was called in, who looked settled before his rash shots as India lost the semi-finals against New Zealand. Post the world cup India has played 2 ODIs against West Indies and they have stuck to Rishabh Pant but after each and every innings he is failing to capitalize. And it seems like India's next move could possibly be playing with Shreyas Iyer at 4 who looked very comfortable in West Indies scoring 71 and 65 at no.5.


Whatever the case is India needs to sort out the no. 4 conundrum as Is it unimaginable that Kohli steps down a spot to bat at No 4 if India fails to identify a No.4 before the 2023 World Cup.


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