India skipper Virat Kohli sought to put the uncertainty surrounding the two-drop spot to rest, backing Ambati Rayudu as the long-term option. Kohli stated that Rayudu has the right qualities for the job, and that the team’s “batting order is sorted” ahead of the 2019 ICC ODI World cup.
“We tried many players in the No. 4 spot, but they were unable to cement their places. We were looking at Rayudu for the England tour, but he couldn’t make it due to some guidelines (Rayudu failed the yo-yo fitness test). He did make it to the Asia Cup, and the team felt that he is designed to play that middle-order role. Rayudu is the right person because he’s experienced and he’s won many games for his State and in IPL cricket.
"He has a great ODI record already. He will have enough game-time between now and the World Cup, so I think that the No.4 slot and the batting order is sorted. As for the guys batting below four, it is flexible and depends on what the team requires.
"In the 18 ODI matches that remain before the World Cup, we want one combination to play right through,” Kohli said on the eve of the first ODI against West Indies here.
Kohli is happy to see Khaleel Ahmed rise through the ranks, as left-arm pace options have been few since Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra called it quits. “A left-arm fast bowler gives us variety. Khaleel has the ability to swing the ball both ways, gets good bounce and bowls at a decent pace. This makes the job easier for people like Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) and (Jasprit) Bumrah. It is great to have a left-arm seamer after so long. After Zak (Zaheer Khan) and Ashish Nehra, we haven't really had a left-arm seamer,” Kohli said.