Ajinkya Rahane is a top no. 4 position contender, feels Virat Kohli

Updated: Feb 01, 2018, 16:53 IST | PTI

India skipper Virat Kohli says Mumbai batsman, who was looked upon as a back-up opener, is now a strong No. 4 contender going into the first ODI v South Africa in Durban today

Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane

Indian skipper Virat Kohli yesterday said the experimentation in the middler order will continue for some more time though the conditions make Ajinkya Rahane a strong No. 4 candidate for the World Cup in England next year. He also said that there is already a core group of players in place, and only the number four spot really needs to be sorted out. South Africa take on India in the first of the six-match ODI series here today. The Indian team had an optional practice session yesterday, with Kohli and pace bowlers taking a day off.

"We have explored many options in the last few months. We don't have too many series and too much time left before the World Cup, so we want to explore all the options before the World Cup," Kohli told reporters here yesterday. "I had said earlier that Ajinkya Rahane would be looked at as a third opener but that situation can change because he has batted at No. 4 in a World Cup (in 2015) before. These conditions are such that you get to play fast bowling throughout the innings so he becomes a strong candidate for No. 4. "Other than him, we have Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey. We don't want to be one-dimensional. It depends whose technique is more suited to what spot especially in that particular country. All options are open," he said further.

Combination crucial
The rest of the batting order is more or less sorted, said Kohli. "Although the lower middle order is more or less sorted, the middle order is something we are still looking at. The combination is working well for us with Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni rotating and batting together. No. 4 is something we have experimented with in the last couple of series. That is the only spot I can see that needs to be solidified," he added. Kohli stressed that although the core group of players has been identified already, things could still change in the lead-up to the World Cup. He also added that there is a need to find balance between preparations and the challenge of current series. "It's about who takes that one particular spot (number four). It's not even spots above and below. Guys who are given the opportunity need to capitalise and really string in performances that convince the management and the team very soon that that guy is meant to play at that spot for the team.

'Core ready for World Cup'
"I feel the core of players is more or less pretty strong at the moment. Obviously changes can happen at any stage. You don't know whether someone is going to be in form or not or what the team requires at certain stages," he said. Kohli said that the squad has enough quality even if there is some experimentation to be done. "It is about finding players who fit a particular spot better in certain conditions. I don't think the quality of the team will be compromised regardless of who takes the No.4 spot," Kohli said.

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