With Yuvraj Singh‘s ouster from the team for the upcoming ODI series against Sri Lanka, the Indian team management has a major task at its hand which is assigning the role of batting at number four to a new player. While the task is sounding an easy one, India’s team management will surely disagree with it as they have not one but three possible candidates – KL Rahul, Manish Pandey and Ajinkya Rahane– for that spot. What makes their task even more tougher is that each of the three players has showed his credentials in recent times.

Rahul, who was on the sidelines for close to four months due to injury, will enter the series on the back of eight consecutive half-centuries in Tests while Rahane was the highest run-scorer during the five-match series in West Indies. Manish Pandey, on the other hand, recently led India A to tri-series in South Africa, finishing the series as its highest run-scorer with an astonishing average of 307.

Rahane was in fine form in West Indies

Speaking ahead of the first ODI at Dambulla, India skipper Virat Kohli kept the cards to his chests when asked about the number 4 spot but made it sure that KL Rahul will bat for India in the middle order.

“See, we feel that KL [Rahul] obviously is such a solid player and before injury he had done well in all three formats. It was unfortunate that he missed out and then Manish got [his] chances. Look, KL will definitely be playing in the middle order. We are not going to be predictable or have a set pattern anymore in terms of what we are going to do in ODI or T20 cricket. Anyone could go anywhere. That’s what we are looking to do. Someone like Manish, he has done well and he has grabbed his opportunities, he has got a hundred in Australia as well. We know about his talent and what he brings onto the field as well: super-fit guy, has a bright future ahead of him, so he will certainly be backed,” Kohli said.

“All three guys will have to compete for two spots in the middle order. There are no guarantees, I would say. As long as there is healthy competition, everyone will keep pushing each other and that is only healthy for Indian cricket,” he added.