Despite all the success in white-ball cricket in the recent past, Team India’s middle order conundrum still remains a worry ahead of the upcoming ICC World Cup 2019, scheduled to be played in England and Wales. With Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Virat Kohli stocking up the upper half, India’s middle order appears quite vulnerable and brittle which has given many sleepless nights to the team management. They have tried different players at the spot, but no one has been able to nail down his name for the spot.
After garnering some limelight on the back of a good IPL season (2018) and a few crucial knocks in the coloured clothing for India – Ambati Rayudu emerged as the first-choice for the slot. But, Rayudu hit a rut against Australia in the ongoing series and appeared to be in all sorts of trouble against quality bowling attacks. KL Rahul is another option, but former Indian cricketer and cricket analyst Sanjay Manjrekar has backed Vijay Shankar for the role. The Tamil Nadu-man has been impressive in the limited opportunities he has got with the side and his temperament has stood out in crunch moments.
Manjrekar said Shankar’s abilities to rotate the strike, besides being quite capable of going big when required, fits him in the crucial batting position.
“Vijay Shankar is my number 4 for his ability to hit sixes as well as rotate the strike. Play him as a batsman. As a bowler, he’s worth only three-odd bonus overs, not seven or the full quota of 10,” the former cricketer was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
On Rayudu, Manjrekar said: “After his 90 against New Zealand in Wellington, I was sure he had cemented his spot. But three low scores and the rise of Vijay Shankar thereafter have put his place in question.” He also said skipper Virat Kohli shouldn’t demote his batting position as No.3 slot perfectly suits him.
“He (Kohli) must bat at No. 3. There is no point in demoting our best batsman, who has set the winning culture in this team,” he opined.
In recent times, Shankar has perfectly played the role of an all-rounder and is believed to have booked a ticket for the showpiece event starting May 30 in England and Wales.