In recent developments, India skipper Virat Kohli, looking at the everlasting dilemma of India’s number four position in ODIs, suggested the possibility of Ajinkya Rahane batting at the erratic slot against South Africa in ODIs starting Thursday, February 6 at the Kingsmead, Durban.
It contradicts Kohli’s previous statement regarding the place of Rahane in the ODIs. The think tank of the Indian team nominated the stand-by opener role to Rahane against the first choice Dhawan and Rohit combination.
Rahane, on the other hand, has been successful at the previously designated slot in the middle order. He had played numerous memorable innings at the number four position for the team. Who can forget the game-changing innings of Rahane at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) during the World Cup of 2015 against South Africa, where he scored a galloping 79 off 60 deliveries?
“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,” stated Virat Kohli ahead of the game on Thursday.
Furthermore, his last four innings at the number four position consist of three half-centuries and a forty plus score.
The Indian team management has constantly chopped and changed the personnel at the number four slot in past couple of years. Batters such as MS Dhoni, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Shreyas Iyer and Yuvraj Singh have already been experimented with at the debatable slot.
“We have more or less 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,” further added the captain of the Indian team.
Captain Kohli had already received a substantial amount of backlash regarding his choices of playing XI already during the South African team. The absence of Ajinkya Rahane, again, was felt during the first two Test matches at Cape Town and Centurion, which India lost. Furthermore, Kohli decided to axe Bhuvneshwar Kumar from the XI and played Ishant Sharma instead, a mistake in the hindsight.
“Only two out of three openers can play in the eleven. Again as I mentioned, I don’t want to confuse him (Rahane) too much making him play in the middle-order. You need to find your game in ODI cricket,” advocated Virat Kohli on the eve of the series opener against New Zealand last year in October.
“He’s been very solid at the top order because of his technique, and he likes playing there as well. It gives him the freedom to go after the bowlers. We don’t want to confuse him,” further mentioned Kohli.
Only time will tell who takes the guard at the merry-go-round slot in the batting lineup for India.