A specialist at the number four position hurt India badly in England at the semi-final. Post the World Cup; team management seems to have found the man for the job in Shreyas Iyer. The 24-year-old’s ability to play the role of sheet anchor or pinch- hitter is unparalleled at this moment.
In the recently concluded India-Bangladesh T20 series Shreyas scored at a strike rate of over 165 in every game. Sanju Samson was part of India’s squad for India-Bangladesh series, but a plethora of top-order batsman and an in-form Shreyas Iyer meant that he had to warm the bench.
Though selectors have shown faith in Shreyas Iyer and he seems to have sealed the number four spot for himself. It is still too early to say if Shreyas Iyer will make the flight to T20 World Cup in Australia next year. The primary reason for that is between now and the mega event IPL’s 13th season will take place. Over the years, the Indian Premier League has become a great platform for players to prove their mettle.
Shreyas’s performance will be under close scrutiny by the pandits and selectors as well. At the same time, IPL 2020 will provide an opportunity for other players to present a case for themselves.
Here we take a look at four other players who can be strong candidates for the number coveted 4 positions:
When Sanju Samson burst onto the scene eight years ago, he was touted to be the next ‘big thing.’ His exploits with Rajasthan Royals from 2013-2015 earned him a reputation of a stylish batsman with the ability to accelerate as the innings progressed.
In IPL, Sanju averages over 27 and strikes the ball at over 130, but in all honesty, his career graph never took off as it should have. Sanju always starts an IPL season with a flurry good scores only to fade away as the season progresses.
Cut to 2019; the Kerala Wicketkeeper-batsman again presented a strong case with 212 runs knock off just 129 deliveries against Goa in a List A match. Sanju is part of India’s next home assignment, but it is yet to be seen if he will find a place in the playing eleven. IPL 2020 will be Samson’s proving ground if he wants to find a ticket for the flight to Australia.
Just like Samson, Suryakumar Yadav made a name for himself in IPL over the years. Playing the role of a finisher for KKR, Suryakumar displayed immense potential as a young player as he played special cameos batting lower down the order for his side. Ahead of the 2018 auction, he was moved to Mumbai Indians, and the move paid high dividends.
In his new franchise, Suryakumar was asked to open, and the role suited him. He finished IPL 2018, and IPL 2019 with 512 and 424 runs, respectively, with a healthy strike rate of over 130 in both the seasons.
In the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, he aggregated 392 runs at an average of 56. In a star-studded line up which had Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, Yadav made a mark of his own. What was most impressive was his ability to consolidate and accelerate towards the end.
The 29-year-old batsman scored these runs at a destructive strike rate of 169. The Mumbai Indian opener is another strong candidate who rightly deserves a national call up and will be in contention for the number 4 spot.
Fans will forever remember Manish Pandey for being the first Indian batsman to score a century in IPL in 2009. Almost a decade has passed, and one cannot help but think why the Karnataka batsman has failed to cement his spot in the national side.
After a brilliant opening season with Royal Challengers Bangalore, Pandey did not quite set the stage on fire. Between 2010-2013, Manish had poor outings. In 2014 he moved to KKR and was again in the spotlight after he won them the final with a 94 runs blinder and scored over 300 runs.
Manish Pandey is a free-floating batsman capable of playing anywhere between three and six slots. He’s a mainstay for the Karnataka domestic side and led Karnataka to their second consecutive SMAT title in 2019. The 30-year-old batsman scored over 300 runs in just eight games at a strike rate of almost 165. Manish has matured as a player and creates a problem of plenty for the selectors ahead of the T20 World cup in Australia next year.
A wicket-keeper batsman from Jharkhand who has made a name for himself with his attacking brand of cricket. No, we are not talking about MS Dhoni. We are talking about Ishan Kishan. Kishan led the Indian under 19 team to the finals in 2016, in a tournament where Rishabh Pant lit up the scoring charts. Ishan had a stiff run as he managed just 73 runs. In his short IPL career, Kishan has displayed immense potential.
In IPL 2017, playing for Gujarat Lions, he scored 277 runs in only 8 games at a strike rate of over 134. Ahead of the 2018 auction, he was bought by Mumbai and had a good run. Though Mumbai failed to qualify, he was a gem of a for the franchise. Ishan Kishan played some blinders, for instance, his 21 balls 64 against KKR, where he found a liking to Kuldeep Yadav and struck him for four consecutive sixes.
Ishan is a flexible player as the 21-year-old opened for MI in 2018 and also played in the middle order. With uncertainty looming over MS Dhoni’s career and with Rishab Pant’s slot as a finisher in question, Ishan’s name comes to mind, and a productive IPL would put him on selector’s radar.
Written by Anmol Ahuja
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