Blunder at No. 4!
A rampant Virat Kohli at one-drop against Starc and Cummins means skipper Aaron Finch will have headaches that an aspiring won't fix. He has now sensibly returned to his rightful spot.
India made a blunder when they placed their batting maestro at No. 4 in the opening ODI against Australia.
Don't weaken a strength to strengthen a weakness is a pretty wise adage but India ignored it and paid a hefty price.
Virat Kohli is the No. 1 short form player wherever he bats but at No. 3 he's ideally placed to fully utilise all his skills to the team's best advantage.
In ODIs, the three batsmen most likely to score a century should be at the top of the order with the opportunity to face the bulk of the deliveries. This theory applies to all teams but in Kohli's case, and especially against Australia, it's critical to adhere to that policy.
Australia has two of the best pace bowlers in the game and the Indian batsmen best equipped to challenge them are Kohli and Rohit Sharma. If Kohli gets on top of both Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc then batting becomes easier against the remainder of the Australian attack.
A rampant Kohli against the Australian pace pair also means skipper Aaron Finch will have headaches that an aspirin won't fix. This was evident in the second contest when Kohli dominated after being sensibly returned to his rightful No. 3 spot.
Finch was forced to bring back Cummins and Starc earlier than he would've liked and in doing so used up overs that were planned for the tail end of the innings.
Despite the reversal in Rajkot, Australia are a very good side with enough class players to punish any opposition mistakes. Placing Kohli lower in the order in Mumbai was a big mistake.
If the middle order is a concern for India the best way to overcome the problem—other than finding a player to plug the hole—is to have Kohli making big scores at three.
However it's hard to see where the problem lies. There's no doubt that KL Rahul has the talent to bat successfully at No. 4 and his performance in the second contest only served as further convincing evidence. Since that is the spot available to him whilst Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan have a mortgage on the opening partnership the best policy is to persevere with the elegant right-hander batting behind Kohli.
The young man who followed Kohli at Mumbai, Shreyas Iyer, was afforded the treatment a lot of the Indian batsmen can expect when they tour Australia next season. He was softened up with some well-directed short stuff before succumbing to a fuller delivery from left-armer Starc.
The Mumbai success was Australia's fourth ODI win on the trot in India, dating back to last year. It's not a good policy to let an Australian team get on top mentally.
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