The Indian head coach Ravi Shastri reckons that Team India could look to protect the Indian skipper Virat Kohli and send him down the order during the World Cup tournament in England if the conditions will demand.
Speaking in an interview to Cricbuzz, the former Indian allrounder said: “The good thing about this Indian top-three is we can separate them if conditions and situations demand. Someone like Virat Kohli can go to number four, and we can put a good number three to bring more balance to the batting line-up. That’s flexibility for you, and for big tournaments like the World Cup, you have to be flexible to see what’s the best balance for the side.”
When asked about who could be the no. 3 position instead of Kohli, Shastri said that maybe Ambati Rayudu will bat at number three if required. He also expressed that separating the top-three could make the batting stronger. Shastri also praised the Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan and said that the two are best ODI opening pair at the moment.
Talking about MS Dhoni’s position in the team, Shastri said that the experience of the former skipper will be useful to the Indian team at the World Cup. He said, “He is still a great batsman and is finishing matches for us. You saw in Adelaide, and he has been in terrific form this year. He may not be Dhoni of 2008 or 2011. But experience is not bought or sold in the market. He is superb with the gloves, and from behind the stumps he really guides the wrist spinners because he understands all the fielding angles from inside the circle much better than the others.”
Despite questions being raised on India’s middle order, Shastri insisted that the presence of Rayudu, Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav has eased the trouble. He that after the Hamilton ODI, Rayudu went back to the drawing board and dug deep on Sunday in Wellington. He played the situation.
Talking about Pandya, Dhoni, and Jadhav as an aggressive unit down the order, the head coach explained, “This aggressive intent adds flair to the Indian side. The best ODI sides in the world have proper batsmen at numbers 5, 6, 7, 8. Look at the Indian team in 1983, or even in 1985. Then, look at the 2011 Indian team. You had Suresh Raina coming in at number seven, and he won you games (against Australia in the quarter-final and Pakistan in the semi-final). With Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Raina at numbers 5, 6, 7, no side could relax. So when you have Hardik Pandya coming in at number 7 or even at 8, the opposition cannot relax.”