India team's number four batting spot has to be one of the most debatable topic currently in our country. Since Yuvraj Singh lost his form & place due to unwellness it has been a round of musical chair for that no. 4 spot. Since 2016 as many as 12 players had been tried at that slot but nobody has really been able to impress captain Virat Kohli.
After 2011 world cup when Yuvraj Singh suffered from cancer and was out of cricket, this musical chair had started for a middle order batting position. At that point of time a young Virat Kohli took up the no. 4 spot temporarily. But after the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar's retirement the then Indian captain MS Dhoni pushed Virat Kohli up to no.3 as he was also on the way of becoming Indian batting's mainstay. A promising youngster Ajinkya Rahane then got the chance to bat at no.4 and sealed his spot with good performance. India with Rahane, Dhoni, Raina in the middle order seemed well equipped for the 2015 world cup. As expected they did quite well throughout the worldcup by remaning unbeaten, but only to fumble in the semi final where whole batting unit fumbled under pressure except MS Dhoni.
Immediately after World cup India seemed to have started the preparation for the next world cup. Thry left out almost 6-7 players from the world cup squad whose performances weren't upto the mark. Among them was India's no.4 Ajinkya Rahane.
In 2016 Ajinkya Rahane got back into the team and did a decent job against West Indies but this time he had been given the role of an opener. From next series he got dropped as regular openers came back in the team.
In 2017 Yuvraj Singh after having performed well in domestic circuit got back into the Indian team, and made an immediate impact. In the 2nd ODI against England at Cuttack, India were reduced to 25 for 3 within first 5 overs. Dhoni and Yuvraj then joined forces to take Indian tean out of the trouble. It seemed our childhood is back when these two legends batted together. As usual Yuvraj went berserk and scored a brilliant 150 runs,well accompanied by Dhoni's 134 as both of them destroyed England's bowling. With virtue of that performance Yuvi sealed his no.4 spot in 2017 Champions trophy. In the Champions trophy except the match against Pakistan,Yuvraj singh never looked good. Seemed like age started to catching him up. As a result he was dropt from the squad soon.
After players like Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer getting short run at no.4 spot it was Ambati Rayudu who got the spot with the help of his brilliant 2018 IPL. Against New Zealand in wellington India were in danger at 18 for the loss if 4 wickets, the new no 4 helped India got past the 250 runs mark along with Vijay Shankar and Hardik Pandya. But in 2019 his form dropped drastically and as a result he failed to make up to the squad. Selectors picked up Vijay Shankar for the number 4 position, and his ability to bowl medium pace also worked in his favour.
In the 2019 world cup Shankar got the chance to play at no 4 but failed to make any impact. After just a couple of matches he was dropped from the squad and KL Rahul took his place. Rahul seemed to be in his comfort zone while batting at no 4 but the unfortunate long term injury of Dhawan means KL Rahul had to take up the opening slot. Selectors then decided to call up a young and talented Rishab pant for the no 4 spo. He also failed to do anything extraordinary either, and this musical chair for no. 4 spot is one if the reason why India failed to win the Semi final match against New Zealand.
For me, India missed the trick of sending MS Dhoni at no.4. A legendary player like him knows perfectly how to anchor and innings and have the final flourish. India tried a little too many players at no.4 since 2016 and failed to give ample time to any single player to settle down at that spot. In a recent interview Kohli remarked that he and the management wants to back Rishab Pant for the number 4 spot. As per Kohli No.4 and 5 is a floating spot where players would be send according to the given situation. So for fans it would be interesting to watch out who actually gets to play at no 4 in the upcoming series against West Indies as India would look to settle the squad and no.4 spot for 2023 world cup as soon as possible.