India’s campaign in the 2019 World Cup didn’t end as the team or the billion plus fans would’ve expected. Virat Kohli & Co. lost to New Zealand in the semi-final and were shown the door of elimination. The Men in Blue dominated in the league stages, having finished with 15 points from nine matches. One of the major concerns during the mega event was their middle-order, which blew hot and cold throughout.
Over the last two years, there has been a lot of chopping and changing, especially surrounding the much-debated number four position. After trying and testing for almost a couple of years, India went with an inexperienced Vijay Shankar, who had made his ODI debut earlier this year versus Australia. To start with, KL Rahul batted at four in the World Cup after which the likes of Shankar and Rishabh Pant also got to bat in that position.
However, the problem remained unsolved and after India’s exit, head coach Ravi Shastri also admitted that the management couldn’t find a solution to the everlasting issues. Shastri, also a former Indian cricketer, understands the significance of a solid batter in the middle.
We just couldn’t control it
“In hindsight, yes we did need a solid batsman out there in the middle order. But now, that’s something for the future. That’s a position that was always giving us problems, but we just couldn’t nail it,” Shastri was quoted as saying in an interview with Indian Express.
After his century in the warm-up match against Bangladesh, KL Rahul batted at four. Unfortunately, Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out due to a thumb injury and Rahul went back to opening the batting. It meant that India had to find another batter for number four. They found Shankar, but even the all-rounder fractured his toe and was ruled out of the tournament midway.
Shastri put forth the constant injury concerns and how they derailed the Men in Blue’s journey in the 50-overs mega event. “Rahul was there, but the Shikhar Dhawan got injured. Then Vijay Shankar was there, and he got injured. We just couldn’t control it,” he added.
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Previously, Sanjay Jagdale, the former BCCI secretary, said that Ajinkya Rahane should’ve been picked for number four. Rahane last played an ODI for India way back in February 2018 during the tour of South Africa. His name was contemplated for the World Cup, but he didn’t make the cut.
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