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5 contenders for India's number four slot ahead of ODI World Cup 2023

Post the 2015 World Cup, India have struggled to find an ideal fit for the number-four position in the 50-overs format.

KSHITIJ KUMAR

Jr. Staff Writer

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Published - Dec 02, 2022, 11:06 IST | Updated - Dec 02, 2022, 11:06 IST

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Post the 2015 ODI World Cup, the ‘number four conundrum’ has haunted the Indian cricket team time and time again. As the Men in Blue prepared for the 2019 World Cup in England, the team management tried several options for the role but no player was able to make the spot his own.

Ambati Rayudu came closest to nailing the role and the then-India skipper Virat Kohli had also hailed Rayudu as India’s best option for the global tournament at one stage. Surprisingly, come the marquee tournament, India’s designated number four batter couldn't even find a place in the national squad.

Kohli & co. started their World Cup campaign with KL Rahul picked to bat at two down but after Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out of the tournament due to a fractured thumb, Pandora's box of India’s incompetence opened up, and the Men in Blue were seen trying to figure out the right fit for the number four slot at the grandest stage.

An inexperienced Rishabh Pant, who was not even on the team sheet at the start of the high-profile tournament was suddenly playing two down and was unable to do justice to the role.

Fast forward to the present, India's coaching staff has changed, the team’s captain has changed, and there are many fresh faces in the camp but one thing still stays the same ‘the number four conundrum’. The 2023 World Cup is approaching and the Men in Blue are far from solving the dilemma. Let us look at the players who could finally answer the question.

Here we look at the contenders for India's number four slot ahead of the ODI World Cup 2023:

5. Sanju Samson 

Sanju Samson is one of the top-drawer batters in Indian cricket. The 28-year-old has been among the prolific run-getters in the Indian Premier League and amassed 3526 runs in 138 matches at a strike rate of 135.72.

He has been a game-changer with the bat over the years but there has been a tinge of responsibility added to his eye-catching stroke play of late and it has displayed in the international arena as well.

In this calendar year, Samson has made six appearances for the Men in Blue in the shortest format and scored 179 runs at a strike rate of 158.40. Talking about the ODIs, the elegant batter has smashed 284 runs in ten matches at a strike rate of 105.57.

Samson is someone who can swiftly switch gears and play as per the demands of the situation. The wicketkeeper-batter is an excellent player of both spin and pace and given he has fared well for India in the middle order, the team management will look to provide him game time at the number four position. The Trivandrum-born has all the potential in the world to thrive in the role. 

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