For the last few years, No. 4 has been the biggest talking point both inside and outside the dressing room of India’s ODI side. That in fact was one of the few areas that the Kapil Dev-led Cricket Advisory Committee was not satisfied with before re-appointing Ravi Shastri as the head coach of the Indian cricket team for next two years – till 2021 T20 World Cup. But Shastri is determined to remove that blot from his otherwise fantastic CV. He, in fact, has identified India’s No.4 in ODIs.
Speaking exclusively to Times of India, Shastri said Shreyas Iyer will continue to bat at No. 4 in ODIs for India. “One of the areas we concentrated on over the last two years was to blood as many youngsters as possible. Shreyas Iyer, for instance, he is going to stay at No. 4,” said Shastri.
Iyer, interestingly, did not bat at No.4 in the recently concluded three-match ODI series against West Indies. With scores of 71 and 65, he was very successful batting at No. 5 in the two matches – first ODI was a washout – against West Indies. Rishabh Pant was India’s chosen No.4 but he failed to grab the opportunities.
Iyer had also earned high praise from Indian captain Virat Kohli for his match-winning knock in the third ODI at Port of Spain. “He understood the value of performing in these situations. The way he (Shreyas Iyer) batted out there, he took a lot of pressure off me. His knock was the game-changer. We want to have people take responsibility at different batting positions. But he certainly presented a strong case for himself. He completely played in full control and was putting pressure on the bowlers,” Kohli had said after the match.
Shastri also went to suggest that more youngsters will be tried in the Indian limited-overs sides in the coming days. “Bench strength is everything if we’re looking at things from a long-term perspective. That constant flow of fresh, young talent has to be there. Be it Rishabh or Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep, Hardik, Mayank, Shankar – they’re there, constantly raising their hands up. That kind of a pool does wonders when the only objective is to ensure you don’t end up with, let’s say, any kind of deadwood,” Shastri said.