World Cup 2019: 5 Cricketers who can bat at number three if Virat Kohli misses out the game against South Africa
Kohli injured his thumb in the training session on Saturday and was seen attending by the physio Patrick Farhart.
Updated - Jan 23, 2020 8:17 pm
Team India will be getting their World Cup campaign a bit late compared to the other teams. They are scheduled to play their first game against South Africa on June 5. Strangely, this will be the Proteas’ third match while even most of the other sides will have played two matches by then as well. For the Men in Blue though this is brilliant to get accustomed to the conditions and put their best foot forward from the opening game itself.
However, there were concerning faces in the Indian camp on Saturday as the Indian captain Virat Kohli hurt his left thumb in the training session. The physio Patrick Farhart was seen attending him as well and then while backing off from the training, Kohli’s thumb was immersed in the glass of ice water. Though it might not be that concerning injury, the thumb plays an important role in holding the bat and if he is not comfortable, Kohli might miss the game.
Despite the fact that the chances of happening the same are very very grim, the number three spot is left vacant in case the 30-year-old sits out. While Rohit Sharma will take up the captaincy duties, the big question will be, who will bat at number three?
Here we bring you five players who can fill up the crucial batting position:
1. KL Rahul
Now, if Virat Kohli is ruled out, KL Rahul suddenly becomes one of the vital cogs in the line-up. No matter the management will first turn up to him to fill the vacant position. Rahul is looking in good touch after a decent IPL and then also backed it up with a scintillating ton against Bangladesh in the warm-up game. More than anything, he will have to weather the new-ball storm which is moving quite a bit if the action in the first week of the tournament is concerned.
Batting at three is close to opening the innings itself as one of the openers, at times, can get out off the first ball. Rahul is used to batting at the top order and should be the quick replacement. However, he has batted only twice (against Sri Lanka and Australia) at number three in his 14-match ODI career so far scoring 30 runs. There was a gap of almost 19 months in those two knocks but the talented batsman will definitely relish the challenge and would love to come out on top.
2. Dinesh Karthik
If the team management decides to not disturb the rest of the line-up, then Dinesh Karthik comes into the picture. He has travelled to England predominantly as the backup wicketkeeper but might have to take up different roles if required and this could be his opportunity. Kohli had stressed Karthik’s experience when asked about the latter’s selection and could turn out to be the perfect replacement.
Though Karthik has played only 91 ODIs in his 15-year career, he understands the importance of batting at the top order. Experience is the key here and moreover, he has batted on seven occasions at the position before scoring 185 at an average of 26.42 and the strike-rate of over 70. Though the numbers aren’t encouraging, one would feel that Karthik is the best bet as he has batted at first drop before and most importantly, the dynamics of the rest of the team isn’t disturbed.
3. Vijay Shankar
This could put too much pressure on the youngster. But this is where heroes emerge from. Remember MS Dhoni smashing 183 against Sri Lanka? So Vijay Shankar will have to grab this opportunity with both the hands. Though he has no experience whatsoever batting at the position at the highest level, his composure will work in his favour. During the New Zealand tour earlier this year, in one of the ODIs, India were struggling at 18/4 in the 10th over with the ball swinging a lot.
Shankar came out and handled the condition superbly scoring 45 runs and he has to do the same in Southampton as well. The ball is expected to swing up front and Shankar is capable of handling it well and having done it before, it will give him a lot of confidence too. Moreover, it will also keep Rahul away as he is vulnerable against the moving ball a bit and can come to bat at four and score runs at a quick pace. Shankar is a very good option to bat at three if required for India at any stage in the World Cup it seems.
4. Hardik Pandya
Now, this is a little bit enterprising option. But why not? Hardik Pandya loves challenges and he is hitting the ball better than at any stage of his career. He was promoted to bat at five in the warm-up game against New Zealand and played a mature hand defying the pacers. Yes, he tends to open up a bit but that’s the way he plays and one has got to back him.
Hardik is a man of confidence which is sky high at the moment and has the ability to change the momentum of the proceedings as well. In case, the wicket falls early, he can come out and play his shots with freedom by clearing the in-field. He has never batted at three before but has played at much-famed number four on five occasions. He has scored 150 runs at a strike-rate of 106.38 which are decent enough numbers.
5. MS Dhoni
Well, is this possible? What kind of batsman do you need at three? The one who can anchor the innings, keep the scoreboard the ticking and play a big innings. MS Dhoni can do two of those things easily and while rotating the strike could be an issue for him at the early part of the innings, the veteran more than makes it up for that in the latter part of his innings.
He is in the best possible space in terms of batting currently and very few must have forgotten the 183-run knock against Sri Lanka. But it was the ‘younger’ Dhoni. His back is troubling him a lot now and the management might ponder him sending at three if India is batting first. His numbers batting at three are simply mind-boggling. In 16 innings, Mahi has smacked 993 runs at an unreal average of 99.69 and has two centuries to go with six fifty-plus scores to his name at the position.
But there is one other aspect to this point. While his record at three might be fantastic, he hasn’t batted at the position since 2009. Will he be able to bat the same way even after 10 years? Well, his name is MS Dhoni. He can do anything. He has soaked in a lot of pressure with ease over the years and if the need arises, the master of finishers will surely put the team ahead and take up the responsibility.