'Discussed that with MSK Prasad' - Shastri reveals considering Kohli for No.4 at 2019 World Cup
Ravi Shastri revealed India pondering over the option of asking their batting linchpin Virat Kohli to play at No.4 and resolve a longstanding issue with his formidable presence prior to the 2019 World Cup. The then Indian head coach said it was a thought he considered and discussed with former chief selector MSK Prasad.
Kohli, who was at the peak of his prowess in the pre-pandemic days, was touted by some for the difficult position to be the acting bridge between the top and the middle-order, easing their lives while exercising his great influence on matches from there.
But the modern-day 50-overs legend stayed put at No.3 outside his brief appearances below in the line-up. From the start of 2015 until the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup semifinal, India trialled 14 different No.4s. Kohli was one of them. But batted at the position just six times.
Of those six, Kohli collected only 46 runs. But his overall record at No.4 in ODIs is reflective of a potential great at the spot, someone who could've been the one-stop solution to the mess that ultimately hurt the side in the New Zealand semifinal loss. Kohli averages 55.21 with a strike-rate shy of 91 from his 39 appearances in ODIs at No.4.
Shastri reveals discussing Kohli at No.4 for 2019 World Cup
Shastri didn't divulge why couldn't those discussions materialise into a concrete decision that would've paved the way for Virat Kohli to bat No.4 at the previous One-Day World Cup. But said it was an idea in consideration and he also sought the opinion of chief selector Prasad for it.
"If Virat has to bat at four, he will bat at four in the interest of the side. You know, there were times I thought of it. Even in the previous two World Cups, when I was coach in 2019, I thought I might have discussed that with MSK [Prasad] as well of him batting at four just to break that top heavy line up," Shastri said on Star Sports' Selection Day show.
"You know, because if we lost two or three at the top, we were gone and it was proved so. Just for that experience… And if you look at Virat Kohli's record, he is good enough at number four,"
India kept messing up the issue by trying and leaving out multiple middle-order hopefuls for the post without ever giving him enough opportunities to settle into a tough role. The team management went from hardcore anchors in the form of Ajinkya Rahane and Ambati Rayudu to aggressors in the mould of Hardik Pandya, Manish Pandey while briefly, and contentiously, recalling Yuvraj Singh for 2017 Champions Trophy. But never settled on one individual for the World Cup.
That, while ignoring the multifold problems that an ageing MS Dhoni brought to the table with his batting only worsened the problem that the side carried and in the end, you had a decisive top-order collapse at Old Trafford putting paid on India's World Cup dream.