Former India coach Ravi Shastri had floated the idea in 2019 as he admitted that he had lengthy discussions with then chief selector MSK Prasad leading up to the World Cup in England. And while he ultimately didn’t go through with it, he repeated the same last week as India prepare for the Asia Cup, followed by the ODI World Cup 2023. With India still struggling with the No. 4 issue – even captain Rohit Sharma admitted that the team failed to find a better option since Yuvraj Singh – Shastri believes that Virat Kohli should fill the role. But the idea was promptly shut down by two cricket pundits as they served Shastri a brutal reminder of Sachin Tendulkar from the 2007 World Cup.
The 2007 edition of the 50-over event remains India’s worst performance in the history of the tournament. Despite a squad with some blockbuster names in Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid (captain), Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh, India suffered an exit from the group stage after falling to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh .
And among the major reasons cited for the forgettable show, Tendulkar’s name topped the list for a strange decision taken by the team management during the World Cup. Breaking the formidable opening pair of Tendulkar and Ganguly, who were in form with several records to their name, the former was sent in at No. 4, where he managed to score 7 and a duck in two innings, both of which India lost.
“Virat made the scapegoat”
On Monday, when Star Sports reiterated Shastri’s theory of pushing Kohli to No.4, former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar said the “iconic” player seems to have become the “scapegoat” amid pundits trying to explore implementing other options like Ishan Kishan in the lineup.
“The more you talk about other options like Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli seems to be demoted. He has become the scapegoat in the sense that you bat him at No.4 and all your problems are solved,” he said.
Although former Australian cricketer Tom Moody, who was part of the same panel, agreed with Shastri’s idea, Manjrekar was quick to remind him of the Sachin incident 16 years ago. However, he left the decision to Kohli if the team management asks him to bat at No.4 in what would likely be his last World Cup appearance.
“There is also a cultural issue in Indian cricket. The 2007 World Cup when the team management of Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell sent Tendulkar at No. 4 instead of opening because they had the likes of Virender Sehwag and others at the top order. But that became a huge controversy. So it really depends on Kohli, an iconic player, whether he wants to go at No. 4. It seems like an absolutely simple solution, but it’s about Kohli,” he added.
Another former India cricketer, Dodda Ganesh, in X, spoke on similar lines as he brushed aside the idea of being the “best batsman” in the team to change his batting position in an event as big as the World Cup.
“Your best batsman should be batting in his usual position, where he has had all the success. He is not a fan of Kohli batting at number 4 just because the team couldn’t find a batsman for so many years. Remember, what happened in 2007 in the WC where Sachin was asked to bat at 4,” he posted.
India are yet to reveal their World Cup plans, but the Asia Cup, which begins on August 30, will certainly give a peak into the management’s thought process and could likely reveal whether they want Kohli at No.4 instead of options in Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma or Shreyas Iyer.
#Kohli #scapegoat #Remember #happened #Sachin #India #players #shut #Shastris #No.4 #idea