Kohli moves up to No.3 in search of winning combination

Kohli moves up to No.3 in search of winning combination

Virat Kohli
Indian captain Virat Kohli celebrates victory. (Photo by S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

India may have completed a comprehensive series victory over the West Indians and courtesy a surprise pulled up by Sri Lanka as they routed Australia 3-0 in the 3 match Test series, India has risen up to the No.1 spot in the test rankings ushering in memories of the MS Dhoni led era where a perfect blend of youth and experience merged together to pull up India to the coveted spot. Yet, a few chinks in the armor are yet to be resolved for Kohli and co. The sight of a struggling Pujara on the crease at the cost of someone like Rohit Sharma warming the bench was simply too much to ignore for too long, both for the press and perhaps for the team administration as well. It is this dilemma of the No.3 spot which has made Kohli consider a slew of changes in the batting order because let’s face it, a batsman like Rohit Sharma is too good to be left out.

The fact that Rohit Sharma hasn’t been a regular in the Test lineup despite his amazing record in the ODI format has more to do with the team’s requirements and the spots opening up in the batting order and less to do with Sharma’s performances. Provided he’s been inconsistent in the Test format but he’s also suffered in proving his ground due to a lack of opportunities with the opening and No. 3 spots firmly sealed up by Vijay, Dhawan and Pujara.

KL Rahul put himself with a century on debut against the Australians and Sharma was further neglected. It is now that Pujara’s lack of form is starting to make headlines that Sharma is being considered an alternative. Unlike his predecessors and contrary to what common sense dictates, Kohli doesn’t believe in retaining the winning combination. Perhaps he’s a perfectionist who has an eye for identifying the slightest of weaknesses in the team. Even so it serves well for the team as they are set to embark on a longish home season starting September against New Zealand and this is a series where an opportunity to experiment in foreign conditions presents itself given that India have been the least perturbed by their opposition.

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Rohit Sharma’s potential has put him on the captain’s mind and Kohli is willing to make everyone change their batting positions so as to accommodate Rohit Sharma in a position from where the team could make the best use of his potential. For this reason, Kohli will be moving a spot up the order to No.3 and Ajinkya Rahane will be moving up to No.4 so that a spot opens up for Sharma at No.5.

It can be seen as a pretty bold step considering that Kohli has been struggling himself at the No.3 spot in tests and yet, the skipper remains confident and perhaps rightly so, given that he has played over 130 ODIs batting at the No.3 spot and has had a tremendous amount of success at that particular position. He maintains that ultimately, it’s all done for the teams’ cause and if he’s shifting his batting position, he would expect others to do the same. It’s an unfortunate situation to see a batsman of Pujara’s caliber and temperament struggle at the crease. While his stints at the crease have been prolonged and have been instrumental in lending solidity to the teams’ partnerships, it his abject failure to score runs and build on starts which has been hitting the news for the wrong reasons.

Contributing factors have been Pujara’s lack of reckoning for the limited overs format and his absence from the IPL . That leaves him with just about 15-16 tests a year and obviously it’s not proving to be enough. Now it may have been wise to just wait out Pujara’s meek spell but Kohli is in search of the winning and perhaps the perfect combination. The cost may be bigger than estimated and could contribute to Kohli’s lack of performance as seen in the third test. However this team obviously seems to be a lot more dynamic than the erstwhile stagnant era of Indian cricket. Seeking positive changes might be the way forward and will hold India in good stead following their long home season.