Four years have passed since India’s semifinal exit from the 2019 ODI World Cup, a tournament marked by India’s struggle to establish a reliable number 4 batsman. As the 2023 ODI World Cup approaches, a familiar dilemma has resurfaced for India – the quest for a solid middle-order presence. While options like Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, and Rishabh Pant possess world-class batting skills, fitness concerns have clouded their availability.
While Rishabh Pant’s recovery timeline doesn’t align with the upcoming World Cup, a glimmer of hope shines on Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul’s participation. India is keen on having both players fit and ready to fortify the middle order. KL Rahul has reportedly resumed wicketkeeping training at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, while Shreyas Iyer’s fitness assessment remains pending.
Addressing the situation, Sourav Ganguly shared his perspective during a Kolkata event, stating, “Who said we don’t have a No. 4? We have so many (batsmen) who can bat at that spot. I think differently; my mindset is different. This is a fantastic side.”
In a surprising move, Sourav Ganguly suggested 20-year-old Tilak Varma as a potential solution, despite his recent international debut. Ganguly highlighted Varma’s left-handed batting style and expressed similar optimism for another young left-hander, Yashasvi Jaiswal, to open the innings. He emphasized building a team that combines experience with the fearless approach of young talents like Varma, Ishan Kishan, and Jaiswal.
Sourav Ganguly lauded the current bowling lineup, with particular praise for Jasprit Bumrah, who has been regaining top form at the National Cricket Academy. “I’ve spoken to some players at the NCA, and they said he’s at his best…Bumrah was bowling at almost 90 miles per hour the other day. That’s great news for Indian cricket,” Ganguly shared.
Amid concerns about unsettled team combinations, Sourav Ganguly expressed confidence in India’s formidable bowling unit, comprising Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, and Kuldeep Yadav. Ganguly envisioned a well-settled team taking shape as the World Cup approaches, indicating that player performances during the tournament will ultimately define India’s success.