After a dream run, Team India's journey in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 came to an end after their 18-run loss against New Zealand in the first semi-final at Old Trafford in Manchester on Wednesday. This was also India's second consecutive loss in the semi-finals of the quadrennial event.
According to head coach Ravi Shastri, the main ingredient that a perfect 11 was lacking was a specialist No.4. The No. 4 problem has been haunting India for a while now. A total of 12 batsmen were tried at that spot since 2017 Champions Trophy, Ambati Rayudu looked like a solution for a while but he was not selected in the World Cup squad.
Talking to a publication, Shastri said that the team was lacking a solid batsman in the middle order. He added that the No. 4 spot has been bothering the team and the coaching staff for a while now, even after various permutations and combinations, they couldn’t nail it. Shastri went on to say that KL Rahul was there but he had to open with Rohit Sharma after Shikhar Dhawan was injured. Vijay Shankar then looked like an option but he got injured as well, the team and the coaching staff couldn’t control it added Shastri.
The question was also hovering over the management and among fans so as to who is the perfect player that makes the middle order stronger. In the last two matches that India played at the World Cup, it was Rishabh Pant who came in at 2-down.
To the Men In Blue’s fortune, the top order was playing well and provided great starts for the team. But they couldn't fire all cylinders in the semifinal clash against New Zealand. India lost the top 3 in quick succession and the middle order was exposed. Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant got good starts but couldn’t capitalise. Ravindra Jadeja came to the crease and along with MS Dhoni put up a sensational partnership that almost brought India to the finish line.
Shastri is also likely to be debriefed about the World Cup in due course, with the BCCI CoA set to ask for his view on at least three matters, as per PTI:
Firstly, why was the aforementioned Ambati Rayudu persisted with till the final series when the team management or the selectors were not convinced that he was the solution for the number four slot?
Secondly, why they had three wicketkeepers in the side, especially Dinesh Karthik, who has not performed in ODI cricket for a long time and had a wretched IPL?
Thirdly, why was Mahendra Singh Dhoni shielded till number seven in the semifinal against New Zealand?