Yuvraj Singh, the Man of the Tournament in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2011, said that India failed to plan well for the No.4 position going into the 2019 edition of the flagship one-day tournament.
The No.4 position in ODIs had been one of the most hotly-debated issues in Indian cricket before the tournament, with a number of candidates auditioning for the role. However, though they played some outstanding cricket before crashing out after defeat to New Zealand in the semi-final, India never managed to settle the No.4 issue. They began with KL Rahul there, before he had to move up to open with Rohit Sharma once Shikhar Dhawan got injured. Vijay Shankar replaced Rahul at No.4, before he, too, picked up an injury, after which Rishabh Pant took up the spot.
But while those injuries undoubtedly played a part, India did not have an assured candidate for the position before beginning their campaign, and Yuvraj felt the team should have zeroed in on one player and stuck by the choice - a principle he said that should extend to the team on the whole.
"The team management should have groomed someone. If someone was failing at No.4, the team management should have told that player that he was going to play the World Cup," Yuvraj told the Times of India. "Like in 2003 World Cup, we were playing New Zealand before the tournament, everybody was failing. But the same team played in the World Cup."
Yuvraj cited the example of Ambati Rayudu, who recently retired from all forms of cricket, and was among those in contention for the role in the months leading up to the World Cup. But he lost form during the home series against Australia before the tournament, and was subsequently left out for the tournament. Rayudu was also not considered later, when the team had to pick replacements for Dhawan and Vijay, despite being named as one of the reserves, as team management chose Pant and the uncapped Mayank Agarwal.
"He was in the contention for the World Cup. He got runs in New Zealand, but after three or four bad innings, he got dropped," Yuvraj pointed out.
Once he was drafted in, Pant made some handy contributions from the position, but none that made a huge impact. Yuvraj maintained that whoever they ultimately go with, team management will have to back the player and let them enjoy a long rope.
"If No. 4 is a crucial position in ODI cricket, if you want someone to do well in that position, you will have to back him," he said. "You can't drop someone if he is unable to do well all the time."
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