India’s No.4 conundrum:Vijay Shankar or KL Rahul?

India’s No.4 conundrum:Vijay Shankar or KL Rahul?

The highly debated position from last two years and continuing even in the leading up to the World Cup is the no.4 slot.

Since the 2015 ICC World Cup, India has tried as many as six players (at least six innings) in the No.4 position.

India’s failure in experimentation with batsman at No.4

Ambati Rayadu who almost locked his position at no.4 for the WC 19, played 14 innings averaging 42.18 at a strike rate of 86. However, failure against visiting Australia and poor IPL meant Rayadu was not even in 15 member squad of WC. Yuvraj Singh who was recalled to bat at no.4 hit 150  had decent Champions Trophy but was dropped failing to pass the fitness test and since then is out of team’s plan. Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane did not get enough matches in a row to prove their mettle though both are gun fielders with abilities to calm the nerves and destroy the opposition, and Dinesh Karthik surprisingly has just been favored as a finisher despite having best average among all the players tried(52.80)

So, finally of the players remaining KL Rahul was tried and shown door after averaging 13 in 4 innings he had at no.4.Even Vijay Shankar,the all-rounder, is been thought of as no.4 in the World Cup.

So, who should bat at no.4 for India this World Cup? Has KL Rahul sealed his spot with 108 off 99 balls against Bangladesh in World Cup or India will surprise everyone throwing in Vijay Shankar? Again, not a surprise anymore.

The no.4 batsman has to be fluid with the ability to soak in pressure at 10-2 and even change gears at 200-2 coming in at 35-40 over. Also, he should be a good runner between the wickets while batting in second and third gear, not just one speed.

When we analyze the best no.4 in the World since the 2015 World Cup, two names come up statistic wise- Faf Du Plessis and Ross Taylor.

Faf Du Plessis averages 60 at a strike rate of 92 while Ross Taylor strikes at 87 with an average of 68.85 and no doubt South Africa, New Zealand have been among top four nation for the win-loss ratio with other two being India and England who are heavily reliant on the top-3 batsman.

The highly debated position from last two years and which has continued even leading to the World Cup is the no.4 slot.

Since the 2015 ICC World Cup, India has tried as many as six players (at least six innings) in the No.4 position.

Ambati Rayadu who almost locked his position at no.4 for the WC 19, played 14 innings averaging 42.18 at a strike rate of 86. However, failure against Australia and poor IPL meant Rayadu was not even in 15 member squad of WC. Yuvraj Singh hit 150 at No.4 before decent Champions Trophy and was dropped failing to pass the fitness test and since then is considering retirement. Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane did not get enough matches in a row to prove their mettle though both are gun fielders with abilities to calm the nerves and destroy the opposition, and Dinesh Karthik surprisingly has just been favored as a finisher despite having best average among all the players tried(52.80)

So, finally of the players remaining KL Rahul was tried and shown door after averaging 13 in 4 innings he had at no.4.Even Vijay Shankar, who is an all-rounder, is in radar for no.4 slot and was made to bat at no.3 in T-20s despite all his failure.

So, who should bat at no.4 for India this World Cup? Has KL Rahul sealed his spot with 108 off 99 balls against Bangladesh in World Cup or India will surprise everyone throwing in Vijay Shankar? Again, not a surprise anymore.

Analysis of number four batsman

The no.4 batsman has to be fluid with the ability to soak in pressure at 10-2 and even change gears at 200-2 coming in at 35-40 over. Also, he should be a good runner between the wickets while batting in second and third gear, not just one speed.

When we analyze the best no.4 in the World since the 2015 World Cup, two names come up statistic wise- Faf Du Plessis and Ross Taylor.

Faf Du Plessis averages 60 at a strike rate of 92 while Ross Taylor strikes at 87 with an average of 68.85 and no doubt South Africa, New Zealand have been among top four nation for the win-loss ratio with other two being India and England who are heavily reliant on the top-3 batsman.

England has Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, and Jos Butler to follow up with carnage done by the top order and lower order batsman of Liam Plunkett, Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, and Adil Rashid.

India has MS Dhoni at no.5, but his striking abilities have gone down evident by the paltry strike rate of 71.43 in 2018,78.23 in 2019 and Hardik Pandya who can provide the finishing touch. So there is a big problem in the middle order with Kedar Jadhav just coming off a injury. With none of the four best bowlers, if India plays Bumrah, Kuldeep, Chahal, and Shami renowned for the batting in ODIs.

With a strike rate of 42.86(Bumrah)44.75(Chahal),58.48(Kuldeep) and 86(Shami) with the highest score of 25, India’s lower order cannot do the rescue job nor tonk balls out of the ground in the death overs. Bhuvesnhwar Kumar(average 15.38 and strike rate 75.04), with the rise of Shami, has now fallen behind the queue as India’s best four bowlers and bringing in Ravindra Jadeja in place of Chahal means breaking the Kul-Cha pair who have collectively taken more of 100 wickets for India since 2017.

So does KL Rahul with a strike rate of 80 a paltry record of scoring 13 runs per innings at no.4 at batting in one gear or Vijay Shankar who is yet to score a single half-century solve the most significant debate in Indian cricket? Definitely not. Even KL Rahul prefers to bat at top dominating the bowlers not at four when bowlers have found the rhythm. Vijay is very inexperienced to be given a go at no.4 in the World Cup.Given how bowlers have dominated the proceedings till now in the World Cup, India needs proper no.4 to calm down the nerves in case the two of the top order batsman get out early while dealing with singles, two early on and dominate at the end taking the team to an average or above par score. With the two inexperienced batsmen in Shankar, Rahul the top -3 will be forced to play conservative cricket at the start in order to explode at the end which means falling short by 15-20 runs and neither Indian team have gun fielders with rocket arm as they had in 2013 Champions Trophy to make up for fewer runs on board. So two option remains MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik. The team management wants to use Kartik only as a wicketkeeper batsman only in case MSD is unavailable. Sad indeed!

Who should be India’s no.4?

That leaves with only one choice: MS Dhoni. The talismanic wicket-keeper has scored 1358 runs in 30 innings he has played at No.4 with one century and 12 half centuries at an astonishing strike rate of 92. Perhaps, he may not bat at that high strike rate but can cover up fall of wickets in case 2 wickets fall upfront and accelerate at the end, which is how MS is batting nowadays and considering the time he needs to get his eye in, MS is the best option with his strength. Even if top order gets going, the foundation gives Pandya or MSD license to hit from ball one. With MS at no.4, Ravi Shastri would not be considering the option of batting Virat Kohli a position down. The best four have to face as many deliveries as they can of 300 balls.And such conservative thought process would dampen India’s plan of taking attack to the opposition. Moreover, if India bats first on the flat pitch then against strong opposition such as England, Australia they need to put on maximum runs given how India’s bowling has struggled against these two teams.So MSD is best bet we have as far as No.4 slot is concerned.

Saurebh Gandle

CrowdWisdom360

CrowdWisdom360 Admin

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