Updated: May 28, 2019 9:39:56 pm
KL Rahul’s 99-ball 108 for India in the World Cup warm-up match against Bangladesh at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Tuesday was the brightest spot in the first innings of the match for the 2011 champions.
Rahul’s knock, coming at No. 4 in the batting order, was a welcome sign for India not just for the volume of runs scored, but mainly because that is the one spot in the team over which there has been the most debate.
“It is a problem that has probably been discussed in India’s Parliament,” commentator Sanjay Manjrekar joked about India’s ‘No. 4 problem‘ between innings in the warm-up match.
“India’s issue in the batting department was always going to be No. 4. I think they have got their No. 4 today,” Manjrekar gushed about Rahul’s knock.
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Rahul came into the crease with the India innings in a spot of bother. With both openers Rohit Sharma (19 off 42 balls) and Shikhar Dhawan (1 off 9 balls) being sent back to the pavilion early on, Rahul joined Virat Kohli in the middle with the scorecard reading 50/2 in the 14th over.
When Kohli departed for 47 in the 19th over, Rahul was joined by Vijay Shankar, the other claimant to the No. 4 spot. Shankar, however, was caught behind for only 2 runs making ample room for Rahul to cement his position.
Rahul then combined with MS Dhoni for a 164-run stand, helping India set Bangladesh an imposing target of 360.
The No. 4 void for India
When Manjrekar said India’s ‘No. 4 problem’ is an issue that might have been discussed in the Parliament, he would have been exaggerating only slightly. With the top three spots in the batting order sealed, and MS Dhoni having sealed the No. 5 role, the big question that has dominated every pre-World Cup conversation among Indian fans has been regarding the No. 4 spot.
The void for India at No. 4 can be attributed to Ambati Rayudu’s loss of form just before the World Cup. While the team management has maintained over recent years that Rayudu would play at the position in the World Cup, he was overlooked when the 15-man squad was announced last month.
Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav, the two claimants to the No. 4 role in the current Indian squad apart from KL Rahul, have not done much to settle the debate in their favour since the announcement of the squad.
If Rahul, who was initially taken in the team as a back-up opener, is indeed seen to have sealed the No. 4 spot, Jadhav and Shankar will have to fight for the No. 7 role, in which position Hardik Pandya is the leading contender.
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