In the realm of international cricket, the role of team strategy is of utmost significance. Recently, Ravi Shastri, the former head coach of the Indian cricket team, reignited a discussion that originally surfaced in 2019. His proposition? To have Virat Kohli bat at the No. 4 position for India. Interestingly, this dialogue has resurfaced as India gears up for the forthcoming Asia Cup, followed closely by the 2023 ODI World Cup. Rohit Sharma, the current captain, has openly acknowledged the persistent conundrum surrounding India’s choice for the No. 4 batting position. However, cricket pundits were swift to counter Shastri’s suggestion, invoking a crucial lesson from Sachin Tendulkar’s experience during the 2007 World Cup.

The 2007 World Cup remains a sore point in the annals of Indian cricket. Despite flaunting an impressive lineup featuring luminaries like Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, and Sachin Tendulkar, India endured an ignominious exit during the group stage. One notable error involved moving Tendulkar to the No. 4 position, which resulted in a meager score of 7 and a duck, significantly contributing to India’s downfall. This debacle continues to be cited as a cautionary tale in cricket lore.

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During a recent panel discussion on Star Sports, Sanjay Manjrekar, a former Indian cricketer, weighed in on Shastri’s suggestion. He remarked, “Virat Kohli seems to have become the scapegoat.” Manjrekar’s viewpoint is that pushing Kohli to the No. 4 position solely to accommodate alternatives like Ishan Kishan carries substantial risk.

Tom Moody, a former Australian cricketer and fellow panelist, lent his support to Shastri’s idea. However, Manjrekar was quick to counter with the Tendulkar incident, asserting that like Tendulkar, Kohli is an iconic player who shouldn’t be displaced. Manjrekar added, “Ultimately, the decision rests with Kohli,” acknowledging the weight of this choice, particularly if the 2023 World Cup marks Kohli’s final appearance in the tournament.

Dodda Ganesh, another former Indian cricketer, shared his perspective online, echoing Manjrekar’s sentiments. He emphasized the importance of retaining the “best batter” in their accustomed position, while cautioning against a repeat of the Tendulkar mishap from 2007.

The rejection of Shastri’s proposition for Kohli by cricket experts like Sanjay Manjrekar, citing Tendulkar’s unfortunate experience in the 2007 World Cup, has sparked substantive discussions. With the imminent start of the Asia Cup on August 30, there is a heightened focus on the Indian team’s strategic choices. Will the team management consider Shastri’s concept of placing Kohli at No. 4? Or will they explore alternatives such as Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, or Shreyas Iyer? The Asia Cup could potentially provide insights into the team’s thought process leading up to the World Cup.

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Sanjay Manjrekar noted, “The more we deliberate on alternatives like Ishan Kishan, the more it seems that Virat Kohli is being sidelined. Placing him at No. 4 might appear to be a straightforward solution, but it raises concerns for Kohli.” He also highlighted the historical precedent from the 2007 World Cup, where Tendulkar’s positional change led to controversy.

Cricket entails both strategic acumen and skill. In the intense arena of the World Cup, a solitary decision can determine the course of an entire campaign. History serves as an enduring educator, reminding us that strategic blunders can yield severe repercussions. Shastri’s proposal, although controversial, has ignited an important discourse. However, given the lessons of the past, it seems improbable that India would take the risk of placing their most iconic player in an untested role—especially in a significant tournament like the World Cup.

As the countdown to the Asia Cup and the World Cup continues, India’s quandary regarding the No. 4 position remains a focal point, underscoring the high stakes and meticulous planning intrinsic to international cricket.

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