No. 4 Batsman: Kumble Says Dhoni; Shastri Wants Kohli

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The debate of who will be India’s No. 4 batsman in World Cup is still on. Ambati Rayudu shut that debate down in the fifth ODI against the Kiwis. But now coach Ravi Shastri has added a new twist to the tale.

Shastri is now backing skipper Virat Kohli to don the role in the upcoming World Cup. The management has tried a number of players for this position. They have finally settled with Rayudu, who also made that spot his own since his return.

But Shastri wants the top three to be separated in order to give more flexibility to the batting. Final decisions haven’t yet been made. But if Shastri’s words are taken then Rayudu might have to bat at No.3.

In an exclusive interview to Cricbuzz, Shastri said:

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. 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).

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Can there be last-minute changes?

Shastri has applauded his team members’ ability to move up and down the batting order. He is also confident with Rayudu and believes Rayudu can bat at one-down.

“Yes (Shastri’s reply when asked about Rayudu at the one-down position), 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.

“But 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)?” the Indian head coach added.

Kumble wants Dhoni as No. 4 batsman

After a lacklustre show in previous year, Dhoni has come back strong. The beginning of 2019 has been a happy journey for the Jharkhand-born cricketer.

Recently he scored three back-to-back half-centuries against Australia in the ODI series. He also bagged the Man of the Series award. In the New Zealand tour also Dhoni has done perfectly well.

The former Indian captain is considered as one of the important members for the upcoming World Cup. Even skipper Kohli has talked in favour of Dhoni when criticisms were hurled at him. Former Indian cricketer Anil Kumble believes Dhoni should be India’s No. 4 batsman.

Other players can be positive around Dhoni

Ambati Rayudu has taken the No. 4 slot and has been fantastic of late. But Kumble believes Dhoni’s experience can be very handy in that spot and for the team. In an interview to Cricket Next, Kumble said:

I think there is a lot of talk especially when MS comes into the batting line up. About not having to go all the way and win matches. He has done that in Australia, he has done that many numbers of times. I still believe that he is someone who can bat at number four. If India is in trouble, push him up.

Kumble also added, “He will take his time, you need that and then he has the experience so that he makes sure he bats till the end. And others can be a bit positive around him. I think that is the role he will play and his experience is really needed not just in front of the stumps and also behind the stumps.”

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