Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly has said that the remaining two ODIs in Australia and the forthcoming five-match ODI series in New Zealand will decide Ambati Rayudu’s future as India’s No. 4 as the Men in Blue are looking to fix their middle-order woes ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
During India’s last ODI series against the West Indies at home, Rayudu amassed 217 runs across four innings with one hundred and a fifty. However, Ganguly feels that the 33-year-old needs to score runs outside the sub-continent to cement his place. Rayudu recorded a duck in the first ODI against Australia in Sydney.
"I'm not concerned about Shikhar Dhawan because he was in good form in T20s. But I'm concerned about Ambati Rayudu. He has scored runs in the sub-continent but India have to see if he can score runs outside the sub-continent because the World Cup is in England. He can't bat anywhere below No.4,” Ganguly told IndiaTV.
"These games in Australia and New Zealand will be very important for him and will decide if he can be India's No.4 or not. Im not convinced unless Rayudu can score. Virat has claimed earlier that he has claimed the No.4 spot but he has to score runs. It's imperative to allow Rayudu to play so that India can solve the No.4 spot dilemma," he added.
Ganguly also defended Dhoni's turtle-paced approach in the first ODI in Sydney.
"Dhoni's strike-rate has been like this for a while. Even in England he was batting like that. In the previous match the situation was different and he had to bat that way but after building an innings, you can't get out like that.
"But, I'm not concerned about him after just after one match. These games in Australia and New Zealand will be very important," he said.
Despite being 1-0 down in the three-match series, Ganguly expects Virat and company to bounce back and clinch the series.
"India have been in this situation many times before and they have won after being 1-0 down. This situation is not different for India, so India can come back and win," the 46-year-old opined.
Sourav Ganguly also dismissed any concerns regarding captain Kohli’s form, saying that he is a big game player and will come good soon.
"Virat Kohli scored a century in Tests and after that he has been a little light (in terms of runs). But he can score a century in Adelaide and he can do so in the last match as well. In the last T20 also he scored runs, India needed it and he scored runs and he is a big match player. Big players shine and big matches and he can do it again," he concluded.