The quest for a reliable No. 4 batsman in India's lineup has been a struggle, with six different players tested in that position over their past nine ODI games. Former Australia international Brad Hogg has highlighted two individuals he believes could offer a fitting solution to India's No. 4 problem ahead of the Asia Cup.
Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul’s injuries started the crisis
Team India's ambitions for the ODI World Cup 2023 heavily rely on the performances of star batter Shreyas Iyer, who holds the number four position in ODIs, and primary wicketkeeper KL Rahul. Unfortunately, both players were injured during matches and subsequently underwent surgeries, resulting in an extended absence from the field.
Iyer and Rahul are in the process of recuperation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, which means they won't be part of the upcoming India vs. Ireland three-match T20I series.
Recent reports, however, indicate that both players have begun playing in practice matches and are being considered as potential candidates for India's Asia Cup squad.
They could soon face a fitness evaluation at NCA. If they meet the fitness criteria, they will be available for selection in the 2023 Asia Cup and India's ODI World Cup 2023 squad. What happens, however, if they don’t win the race against time to get fit? How will the team management deal with India’s No.4 problem?
Who can solve India’s No.4 problem without Iyer and Rahul? Here’s what Brad Hogg thinks
Commenting on India's potential batting setup in the ODI World Cup, former Australian spinner Brad Hogg has outlined a solution for the Indian team. In his opinion, if Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma continue as the opening pair in the playing XI, the number four batting slot could be filled by wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson or Tilak Varma.
Tilak Varma's batting during the T20I series against the Windies left a positive impression on the former leg spinner. He, therefore, believes Varma would be a great choice for remedying India’s No.4 issues.
In an Instagram video, Hogg said: “If they're (Iyer and Rahul) not fit, we need a keeper in this team. I don't think Ishan Kishan can bat lower down the order. I think he is predominantly an opener.”
“If they open with Kishan and Rohit Sharma, I would have Tilak Varma coming in at No. 4. He has hardly played any one-day cricket. But the way he has operated in T20 cricket shows that he has got the goods for any situation,” he continued.
Furthermore, Hogg puts forward the idea that India has the option to experiment with Samson as the wicketkeeper if they don’t want to deploy Ishan Kishan as an opening batsman.
“If they go with Gill and Rohit Sharma at the top of the order with Sanju Samson at No. 4 as the Indian keeper going into that World Cup. I think he can offer something substantial in that position.”