Rayudu ideal for number four slot, says Kohli

Virat Kohli addresses a press conference in Guwahati ahead of the ODI series against the West Indies. PTI

India captain Virat Kohli on Saturday said his side's middle-order puzzle will be solved if Ambati Rayudu cements his place at the crucial No 4 position in the matches ahead of next year's World Cup.

Kohli said the challenge was only to find someone for the No 4 slot and with Rayudu stepping up for that position in recent times, the batting order was more or less settled.

"The only position we were trying to figure out was number four for a long time. We tried many players who unfortunately could not capitalise or cement their places in a way we wanted," Kohli said ahead of the first one-dayer against the West Indies here on Sunday.

"With Rayudu coming in and playing well in the Asia Cup, it's about giving him enough game-time till the World Cup so that the particular slot will be sorted for us," he added.

On the back of a strong performance for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, Rayudu, who scored 602 runs at an average of 43.00 and a strike-rate of 149.75, had earned a national call-up for the ODI leg of the England tour but was dropped after failing the 'Yo-Yo' test. But he made a successful return to the Asia Cup in UAE last month and played a key role in India's victorious campaign.

"The team felt there -- and I also watched him -- that he (Rayudu) is designed to play that middle-order batsman's role. We feel that our middle-order is more or less balanced now," Kohli said.

"We believe he is the right person to capitalise on that spot. He is experienced and has won many games for his state and also in the IPL. He has a great ODI record already for India. I think the batting order is sorted."

India are slated to play around 18-odd ODIs before the World Cup.

"Now these 18 games would be to find the perfect combination that we want to take to the World Cup," Kohli said. "Barring injuries or niggles, we want one combination to play through and through," Kohli reasoned.

There has been criticism about veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni's waning batting ability but Kohli said: "Here, more often than not people want to create controversies out of nothing. You look at things the way you want to."

Kohli also spoke about young left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed, who has been named as the 12th man for Sunday's match.

"We don't want to leave any bases uncovered. We thought bringing a left-arm pacer into the mix will give us enough variety. He has the ability to swing both ways and get good bounce as well. He also bowls at a decent pace," he said.

 

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Rayudu ideal for number four slot, says Kohli

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