India captain Virat Kohli on Tuesday justified his decision to send KL Rahul at No. 3 instead of batting in that position himself by saying that he is “allowed to experiment” after the team’s 10-wicket loss against Australia in the first ODI in Mumbai.
India’s move of sending Rahul before Kohli didn’t go according to plan as both batsmen failed to convert their starts. Rahul got out for 41 while Kohli suffered a rare failure and managed just to add just 16 runs to the total of 255.
India have tried over a dozen players at the crucial No. 4 spot in the last 3 years in ODIs but they still haven’t found a permanent solution to this problem.
“We’ve had this discussion many times in the past as well, due to the way KL has been batting. We’ve tried to fit him into the team. Having said that, it hasn’t gone our way when I have batted at No. 4, so we have to see how it goes.
“At the same time, it’s about giving opportunities to the other guys. People need to relax and not panic for just this one game. I think I am allowed to experiment a bit,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
It was a strange call by the captain, coach and team management to try out Kohli at No. 4 especially when Shreyas Iyer was doing well in that position. Iyer scored 2 fifties out of 3 innings at No. 4 vs West Indies in December 2019 – India’s last ODI assignment before the current series vs Australia.
Kohli had stated even before the series that they need to fit in the in-form KL Rahul in the playing XI, hence, sacrificing the No. 3 position was the only choice he was left with. Notably, Kohli averages over 63 at No. 3 but it drops down to 55.21 at No. 4 which is still better than the rest of the options.
Rahul and Kohli’s failures meant India had to be content with a below-par score at the Wankhede stadium as they got bowled out for 255 in 49.1 overs.
Australian openers David Warner and Aaron Finch then gunned down the target in 37.4 overs to register their first 10-wicket victory against India in ODIs. Their 258-run partnership is the highest for any wicket in ODIs against India.
Kohli conceded that they were outplayed by the visitors in all three departments in Mumbai.
“We were totally outplayed in all departments. It’s a strong Australian team, if you don’t play well, they could hurt you. We saw that with the bat in hand. We didn’t get enough runs. I thought we were too respectful at certain phases and it cost us. Can’t do that against a team like Australia,” Kohli said.