Former Team India cricketer VVS Laxman questioned skipper Virat Kohli’s move to bat at the number four spot in the first ODI against Australia that India lost by 10 wickets.
The match, held at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, saw the hosts record their worst defeat against the Aussies, as they saw 256 runs being chased down with ease. The openers Aaron Finch and David Warner smashed hundreds and took apart the game to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
The move that left everyone scratching their heads, however, was Kohli coming in at number four in the batting line-up to give KL Rahul a chance at number three.
“I don’t see this working,” Laxman told Star Sports after the end of the match. “Sachin Tendulkar was the best player the world had ever seen. But he never relished batting at number four.”
“You want your best batsman to play the maximum number of deliveries and set the game up and finish the game for the team, especially against a quality attack. One cannot afford to experiment against this Australian bowling line-up.
“I know you want to play KL Rahul because of his form and you also want to play Shikhar Dhawan because of his experience. But in ODIs, you have to play Rahul at number four. Virat Kohli has to bat at number three and set the game and finish the innings,” he added.
Matthew Hayden, too sitting in the experts’ panel in Star Sports, added that a player who has amassed more than 10,000 ODI runs needs to bat at number three. “You’ve got someone like Virat Kohli that has played 230-odd one-day matches and 180 of those have been at No.3 and he has scored almost 10,000 runs at that particular position”, Hayden said.
Kohli admitted after the match that this strategy will need reworking. “We’ve had this discussion many times in the past as well, due to the way KL has been batting. We’ve tried to fit him into the team. Having said that, it hasn’t gone our way when I have batted at no.4, we might have to rethink about this. So we have to see how it goes,” Kohli said.