Cricket-Kohli is the solution to India’s No 4 concerns, says Shastri

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Fielding Virat Kohli at number four could address India’s long-standing concerns about a settled batter at that crucial position, former coach Ravi Shastri has said.

Since 2017, India have tried a dozen players at that position but none could nail down the place, which skipper Rohit Sharma called “an issue” ahead of the home World Cup in October-November.

Kohli has amassed the lion’s share of his 12,898 runs, which include 39 hundreds, batting at number three in 212 of his 275 innings.

In his 42 appearances at number four, Kohli averaged 55.21, slightly below his overall 57.32, and has scored seven hundreds.

Shastri, who was coach of the India team when Kohli was captain, and lost to New Zealand in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup, said those were impressive numbers for a number four batter.

“If Virat has to bat at four, he will bat at four in the interest of the side. You know, there were times I thought of it,” Shastri told Star Sports channel.

Shastri said during the 2019 World Cup, he considered changing Kohli’s place “just to break that top heavy line-up”.

“You know, because if we lose two or three at the top, we are gone and it was proved.”

“If you look at Virat Kohli’s record, he is good enough at number four.”

Shreyas Iyer looked the part at number four, scoring both his one-day hundreds from that position, but is recovering after back surgery.

A fit-again Jasprit Bumrah will lead a second-string India in a three-match T20 series in Ireland beginning in Dublin on Friday.

A sterner test for Rohit’s team awaits in the Asia Cup, which begins in Multan on Aug. 30 though India will play their matches in Sri Lanka.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by…)