Vijay Shankar could be India’s surprise weapon at no.4 during the World Cup 2019

Rayudu hasn't been consistent at the much-debated slot.

Ambati Rayudu and Vijay Shankar
Ambati Rayudu and Vijay Shankar. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 will be played in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14 and will see 10 of the top ODI teams battle it out in a round robin format. Every team plays each other once and the top four teams after the completion of the league stage will play in the semi-finals.

Every cricket fan and expert out there are contemplating which teams will make it into the knockout stages and Team India is considered to be a viable option given their no.2 rank in ICC’s ODI team rankings and their performance in the format over the last few years.

The Indian team itself is going through a crisis of sorts, as their squad for the World Cup is still not finalised thanks to the much-debated number four spot. Who will bat at no.4 in the World Cup is a question that has been haunting the team management for the last 2 years, and no one seems to have an answer.

Rayudu or Shankar?

Amongst the contenders for the no.4 spot, Vijay Shankar and Ambati Rayudu are the top contenders. The latter failed to do well in the recent Australia series, while Shankar had impressed when given an opportunity to play in the team having made his debut earlier this year.

There already have been surprises thrown by the Indian team in World Cups, like using Dinesh Mongia as an all-rounder at expense of VVS Laxman, who was dropped from the squad and Yuvraj Singh being used a proper spinner in India’s 2011 World Cup triumph. This suggests the Men in Blue might go with Vijay Shankar as their best bet in the middle-order during the tournament.

“There are two ways to look at Vijay Shankar’s elevation. The pros are that he has the ability to rotate strike and is also a power hitter. At Wellington, he showed that he can tackle quality swing and has time to play pace. The flip side is only nine ODIs going into the World Cup. Will the team management take that risk? Let’s wait till IPL,” a source was quoted saying by India TV.

No confidence in Ambati Rayudu

Rayudu’s ODI statistics when looked closely, show that though he averages over 50 in ODIs, most of his big knocks have come against relatively weaker bowling attacks like Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, and the West Indies.

“Let’s get one thing clear. Ambati Rayudu has not inspired the highest level of confidence as number four after his 90 at Wellington. Things can still change if he has a good IPL but there has been a growing feeling that he is uncomfortable against anything above medium pace,” the source further added.

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