Shreyas Iyer

Iyer, Pandey in Rathour's purview as India ponder No.4 question

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Vikram Rathour, India's new batting coach, has opened up about one of the biggest challenges that awaits him after he joins the side later this month: finding a long-term No.4 for the limited-overs teams.

Since the start of 2017, India have tried out 13 different players at that position in one-day cricket, without being able to settle on a single candidate. Most recently, at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019, they had KL Rahul occupy the position, before the right-hander moved up the order to open the innings, leaving the inexperienced Rishabh Pant to take up the spot.

However, Pant hasn't entirely convinced team management of his credentials with the opportunities he has got so far, leaving Rathour to look for more options. "It is not just about the World Cup. It is one slot [we must look at]," Rathour told "The middle order in one-days is not doing well and we must, of course, sort it out.

"Shreyas Iyer has done well in the last couple of games and we also have Manish Pandey. These two guys have done very well in domestic cricket and with India A. These are the batters who are capable of doing the job, and I have no doubt about it in my mind.

"It is a matter of getting it right at the top level. We need to back them and provide them with the right preparations so that they can be there for a longer time. They have enough talent in them to do well."

While Iyer struck half-centuries from No.5 in both the ODIs he played on the tour of the West Indies last month, Pandey featured in the T20Is, totalling 27 runs in three innings while being not out once. Pandey has also been in decent form in the ongoing List A series against South Africa A in Thiruvananthapuram, aggregating 133 runs in three innings, including a match-winning 81 in the third game of the five-match one-day series.

Manish Pandey last played an ODI in September 2018
Manish Pandey last played an ODI in September 2018

Looking ahead to his stint, Rathour spoke of his vision and shed light on the importance of his qualifications – he holds an A and B-level certification from the BCCI, and a C-level certificate from Cricket Australia.

"At this level, man-management is the key. How you support them, how you look after them in tough times has been my strength," he said. "The three courses have given me an edge in understanding the technique and technical aspect. I have been the head coach with Punjab and Himachal [Pradesh] and also the director of cricket at Himachal, and know what the players expect.

"I want to create an environment where players aren't scared of making mistakes, where mistakes are not looked down upon, because they are learning opportunities. You can fail once in a while, but you must learn from your failures and get better."

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