If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it — the idiom fits perfectly while describing India captain Virat Kohli’s decision to switch his batting position from No. 3 to No. 4. To accommodate the three specialist openers in the team, Kohli demoted himself.
And the move backfired in the series opener in Mumbai on Tuesday. Kohli did not fire and India ended up with a below-par total on board.
With Aaron Finch and David Warner helping Australia cruise to a 10-wicket win, India — for the second time in as many months — finds itself in a position to bounce back after trailing in a three-match ODI series. If Kohli’s cavaliers have to show the resilience they showed against West Indies last month, it’s time the captain regains his customary No. 3 position.
Kohli — who has scored 36 of his 43 ODI hundreds at No. 3 — admitted that India had to “rethink” about the batting order. “We’ve had this discussion many times in the past; because of the way K.L. (Rahul) has been batting, we have tried to fit him in the batting line-up,” Kohli had said at the post-match presentation at the Wankhede Stadium. “Having said that, I don’t think it’s quite gone our way whenever I’ve batted No. 4 so we’ll probably have to rethink about that one.”
Come Friday and India’s quandary over the batting line-up will still continue, considering Rishabh Pant’s unavailability for the game. The wicketkeeper has been ruled out of the must-win game after being hit on the helmet. As a result, Rahul — who donned the gloves during Australia’s chase — is set to continue as the wicketkeeper. It will be interesting to see if Kohli and Rahul swap batting positions. Pant’s injury also means that it will be a toss-up between Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav for the No. 6 slot.
Australia will enter the game high on confidence. Centurions Warner and Finch will hope for another cracking start on a belter at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium at Khanderi.
That the opening duo was never separated at Wankhede meant Marnus Labuschagne was deprived of having a hit in his much-anticipated ODI debut. The in-form batsman will be looking forward to prove his mettle in the shorter version on Friday.
It remains to be seen if Australia bring on Josh Hazlewood in place of Kane Richardson as the third seamer but considering Williamson fared pretty well at Wankhede, the management is not likely to tinker with the combination.
The teams (from):
India: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Rohit Sharma (Vice-capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, K.L. Rahul (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami.
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (Capt.), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (Vice-capt., wk), Pat Cummins (Vice-capt.), Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Kane Richardson, D’Arcy Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, David Warner, Adam Zampa.
On-field umpires: Richard Kettleborough, Virender Sharma; Third umpire: Michael Gough; Fourth umpire: K. Srinivasan.
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle.
Match starts 1.30 p.m.
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