India suffered a crushing 8-wicket defeat at the hands of England in the third and final ODI to concede the series 2-1 at Headingley, Leeds on Tuesday (July 17). This loss also ended India's run of nine consecutive one-day series victories.
Seeing the way Virat Kohli and company were outplayed in all three departments, former India skipper Sourav Ganguly has raised question on team’s selection policy. Ganguly stressed on as to why KL Rahul should have been given a consistent run of matches at No. 4.
"Eyes closed, it’s KL Rahul at 4. Your top 4 have to be your best players and you’ve got to persist with them. Go and speak to KL Rahul and say, ‘I’ll give you 15 games. Just go and play.'” Ganguly said in the post-match show aired by the host broadcasters.
He also highlighted India’s overreliance on top 3, saying: "It's a big issue, something that India will have to sort out. You have to have quality, England has quality."
At the start of the series, Kohli had said that sorting the middle-order is one of the main goals in the limited-overs matches against England. During the recently concluded T20I series against England, Virat opted to bat at No. 4 and pushed Rahul at three where the latter scored a century in the opening game at Old Trafford.
However, Kohli came back at his usual No. 3 slot in ODIs with Rahul batting at 4, Suresh Raina at 5 and Dhoni at 6 in the first two matches. In the third ODI, India dropped Rahul and batted Dinesh Karthik at 4.
"Dhoni, Raina, Karthik — very good at 5, 6, 7. India need to find a number 4. I think two of your best batsmen are not being looked after properly. I’m not saying it’s deliberate. Maybe it’s a mistake, maybe when you look at things from the other side you look at it differently. But it’s my opinion, from this side of the ground, (either) of those two (KL Rahul or Ajinkya Rahane) have to play at 4 because it’s too much pressure for Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli,” Ganguly remarked.
“In South Africa (the team) won because Kohli got 3 hundreds in 6 games. Currently, if Kohli doesn’t get a hundred, you’ll find it difficult to win matches," he added.
Ganguly also questioned Suresh Raina’s place in the team. Raina looked out of sorts throughout the three ODIs and was dismissed for 1 by Adil Rashid at Headingley.
"With all due respect, I think there are better players around," Dada asserted.
"By no means am I saying this is a bad Indian side. When Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma play well, they look great. When they don't play well, they look a bit different," he further said.
Ganguly also credited England skipper Eoin Morgan for making some important decisions in the last two ODIs.
"India bowled poorly, England bowled much better. Lot of credit to Eoin Morgan, made two super decisions in two important matches. One at Lord’s batting first, put the pressure back on India and read the conditions superbly, and this morning as well, we raised eyebrows on both occasions and he actually proved us wrong," he concluded.