AB de Villiers: I think Virat Kohli is the perfect No. 4 batter

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Who should be India’s No. 4 at the World Cup? If AB de Villiers were to make that call, it’d be his former Royal Challengers Bangalore team-mate Virat Kohli. De Villiers didn’t explain the rationale behind his suggestion, but did mention Kohli’s ability to “put the innings together and play any kind of role in the middle order” would make him the “perfect fit.”

“We’re still talking about who will be the No. 4 batter for India. I’ve heard some rumours about Virat possibly taking up that position. I would be a big supporter of that,” de Villiers said on his Youtube channel ‘AB de Villiers 360. “I think Virat is perfect for No. 4. He can put the innings together, play any kind of role in that middle order. I don’t know if he would like to do that. We know he loves his No. 3 position; he’s scored all his runs there, but at the end of the day, if the team needs you to do something, play a certain role, you have got to put your hand up and got for it.”

Kohli’s record at No. 4 is pretty good. Seven of his 46 ODI hundreds have come there. In 39 innings, he has scored 1767 runs at an average of 55.21 and strike rate of 90.66. However, he last batted there over three years ago, in an ODI against Australia in Mumbai.

The prospect of Kohli dropping down a spot had seemed necessary with Shreyas Iyer (back) and KL Rahul (thigh) injured. But both of them have recovered well enough to be part of the upcoming Asia Cup and that tournament may well provide further clues as to how India are thinking about their middle-order batting options.

Rohit, when the India squad was announced for the tournament, highlighted how players should be flexible. “No one should say, ‘I’m good at this position or I’m good at that position’. You want guys to be able to bat anywhere, that’s the message conveyed to every individual. Not now, but over the last three-four years,” he said.

For the moment though, all indictions are that Iyer will reclaim the No. 4 spot. He is believed to be pain-free following intensive rehabilitation for back surgery, and has cleared his mandatory fitness tests.

On Friday, on the second day of India’s Asia Cup training camp in Alur, Iyer batted for over 90 minutes in a match simulation setting, facing off against both spin and pace, alongside Kohli as India chose to give their top five – Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Kohli, Iyer and Rahul lengthy batting time.

As confirmed by chief selector Ajit Agarkar, Rahul has picked up a “niggle” that hasn’t allowed him to fully resume his wicketkeeping drills. It’s likely he will sit out of at least the first two games at the Asia Cup, which starts on August 30.

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