St. Johns (Antigua): Head coach Ravi Shastri has for the time being put an end to the debate over the No.4 spot in the Indian batting line-up by identifying Shreyas Iyer as the man for the job.
Impressed with the pool of talented youngsters coming up the ranks in Indian cricket, Shastri said 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 who has been reappointed as the head coach till World 2021 T20.
Iyer batted at number five during the just-concluded ODI series against the West Indies and scored 71 and 65 in the two innings he played.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was India’s number four but he failed to grab the opportunities and scored 20 and 0 in the two ODIs which India won riding on the back of consecutive centuries scored by skipper Virat Kohli.
Kohli, after the third ODI against the West Indies, said that 24-year-old Iyer has presented a strong case for himself to be a regular feature of the team in the limited-overs format.
Earlier, former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar also advocated for Iyer to bat at No.4. “In my view, Rishabh Pant is much better like M.S. Dhoni at 5 or 6 as a finisher because that’s where his natural game and natural flair will come into play,” Gavaskar had said.
“If India get to a great start with Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma batting for 40-45 overs, then Pant at No. 4. But if it’s a question of batting for 30-35 overs, then I think it should be Shreyas Iyer at No. 4 and Pant at No. 5,” he had said.
The number four slot has been one of India’s biggest worries in recent times. Ambati Rayudu, who had been playing at that spot in recent years, was dropped before the World Cup and in his place, Pant and Vijay Shankar were tried out during the quadrennial event.
However, they didn’t manage to impress the team management and questions were raised about their ability to do justice to the role.