The No. 4 batting position has long been a puzzle for Team India in the 50-over format, a riddle that came to the forefront leading up to the 2019 World Cup. Despite multiple attempts to find the right fit, the middle-order consistently underperformed during the prestigious event in England and Wales, ultimately culminating in a heart-wrenching semi-final defeat to New Zealand.
With less than two months remaining until the ODI World Cup 2023, the Men in Blue once again find themselves in a quandary over the No. 4 spot. Shreyas Iyer has occupied this role in recent years, amassing an impressive record of 805 runs at an average of 47.35, including two centuries and five half-centuries in 20 matches. However, his recurring injury woes have cast doubts on his availability. He has been sidelined from all forms of cricket since March due to a persistent back issue that necessitated surgery, forcing him to miss the Indian Premier League (IPL). Despite earning a spot in the Asia Cup 2023 squad, concerns persist about his fitness.
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India’s quest for the last puzzle piece remains unfulfilled amid player shifts
In the post-2019 World Cup era, India have experimented with a revolving door of players at No. 4. Iyer and Rishabh Pant are the only two who have held this position for more than ten innings. With Pant recuperating from various injuries, his absence will surely be felt. Meanwhile, newcomers such as Suryakumar Yadav and Sanju Samson have encountered difficulties cementing their positions in ODIs.
De Villiers expounds on Virat Kohli and India’s predicament regarding number four
In this backdrop, cricket legend AB de Villiers has put forth the idea that Virat Kohli could be the perfect candidate for the No. 4 slot in India’s ODI World Cup squad later this year.
“We’re still talking about who will be the No. 4 batter for India. I’ve heard some rumours about Virat possibly taking up that position. I would be a big supporter of that,” De Villiers said on his YouTube channel ‘AB de Villiers 360.
The 39-year-old believes Kohli possesses the adaptability to thrive in different situations, potentially becoming the linchpin of the middle order. While acknowledging that Kohli typically excels at No. 3, De Villiers suggests that Kohli should be prepared to shoulder the responsibility if the need arises.
“I think Virat is perfect for No. 4. He can put the innings together, play any kind of role in that middle order. I don’t know if he would like to do that. We know he loves his No. 3 position; he’s scored all his runs there, but at the end of the day, if the team needs you to do something, play a certain role, you have got to put your hand up and got for it,” the Pretoria-born cricketer concluded.
Kohli boasts a commendable track record at the No. 4 position in ODIs, accumulating 1767 runs in 42 games at an impressive average of 55.21, including seven centuries.
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