While the majority of the Indian squad for the 2019 World Cup picks itself, the selection committee, headed by MSK Prasad, have to make a crucial call when it comes to the No. 4 slot in the batting order.
- The BCCI will announce India’s World Cup squad in Mumbai on Monday
- The No. 4 slot in the batting order is set to dominate the selection committee meeting
- Ambati Rayudu’s poor form with the bat has been a cause of concern for Team India
Amid a busy Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 season, all eyes are on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) selection committee meeting scheduled to be held in Mumbai on Monday. The senior selection committee, headed by MSK Prasad, will sit down along with captain Virat Kohli to pick India’s 15-member squad for the 2019 World Cup, starting May 30 in England and Wales.
There aren’t going to be many surprises in what is one of the most eagerly anticipated India squad, thanks to some consistent performances from Virat Kohli & Co. in the recent past. However, the No. 4 spot in the batting order is set to dominate the selection committee meeting.
India has tried quite a few players at the crucial spot in the batting line-up over the last two years with limited success. From Manish Pandey to Vijay Shankar, the two-time World Cup winners have tried close to 10 batsmen at the important spot but haven’t managed to identify the World Cup-bound player for the coveted position. India even tried playing captain Kohli at the No. 4 with head coach Ravi Shastri suggesting the team will not shy away from doing so in testing English conditions.
Ahead of the selection committee meeting, let’s take a look at the probable for the No. 4 spot in the Indian batting order.
Concern over Rayudu’s form (or the lack of it)
Virat Kohli had backed Chennai Super Kings batsman Ambati Rayudu for the No. 4 spot as early as 2018 following his consistent performances in an ODI series against the West Indies at home.
Kohli had said Rayudu will get the backing until the World Cup. However, Rayudu’s form in the recent past is a cause of concern for Team India.
The Hyderabad veteran made a strong comeback to the limited-overs Indian team in 2018. He amassed 392 runs, including a century and three fifties, in just 10 innings at an impressive average of 56.00. However, in 2019, Rayudu has scored just 247 runs from 10 matches at a below-par average of 30.87.
Rayudu has been struggling to get going in IPL 2019 as well. The CSK batsman has scored just 138 runs from 8 matches at a paltry average of 19.71.
Even if IPL performances are not going to be taken into account, as captain Kohli insisted ahead of the Twenty20 league, Rayudu’s form (or the lack of it) will certainly be discussed by the skipper and the selectors on Monday.
Dinesh Karthik at No. 4?
Can India play Dinesh Karthik at No. 4? The experienced wicketkeeper-batsman brings in experience and strong temperament.
Karthik had managed to do well in the limited opportunities he got to represent India in ODIs over the last three years. Karthik has scored 425 runs in 20 matches at an average of 46.75 in ODIs since 2017. Team India has tried the Kolkata Knight Riders captain at the No. 4 spot as well.
However, Karthik was not picked for the ODI series at home against Australia last month. Karthik’s form for Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2019 is far from impressive.
If India is looking at a backup wicketkeeping option for MS Dhoni as well, Rishabh Pant may get the nod ahead of Karthik.
Pant hasn’t played ODIs for India enough to demand a spot in the World Cup squad but the Delhi wicketkeeper-batsman is a proven match-winner. His hundreds for India in Tests in difficult conditions in England and Australia last season should force the selectors to keep him in the midst.
Vijay Shankar likely to make World Cup squad
On the other hand, Vijay Shankar looks a favourite to make the World Cup squad. The Tamil Nadu all-rounder has batted at the No. 4 spot for India in their recent limited-over assignments. In the IPL, Shankar has been batting higher-up the order for Sunrisers Hyderabad. With his ability to give a few overs of medium pace, Shankar may pip his senior teammates to the World Cup.
KL Rahul can also be looked at as an option at No. 4 for India in England. The classy batsman has been in fine form for Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2019. However, he is set to make the World Cup squad as a backup opener.
(This story originally appeared on INDIA TODAY)