Looking Beyond Tendulkar: The Fill-in for the Void

By Shraddha

Australia v India - Second Test: Day 4

When Sachin Tendulkar came out to bat in the first innings of the second test against the West Indies, the crowd jubilantly gave him a standing ovation. It was an overwhelming moment, whose import was substantially enhanced by the fact that it could very well be the last time that the nation would get to see Sachin play in the no.4 position.

And whoever takes up the position after Sachin thus will have to step into really huge shoes considering the legacy that would have been left behind by his predecessor. Amidst the innumerable upheavals that the team has faced over the course of years – decades even – that position remained unchanged; the only beacon of constancy and hope.

Thus, for the player who would take up the mantle to play in the no.4 position post Sachin’s retirement, it would not only mean coming up with a prolific aura of his own, but doing so in as limited a time as possible. Where Tendulkar forged his reputation as one of the finest batsmen to come fourth down the batting order over a course of several innings and matches, the time-span allotted for the new batsman to make that position his own would be too less, though far more challenging.

The player will need to brave comparisons, between his style of adapting to the position and that of the iconic batting stature of his predecessor. There will be times when the uniqueness of the present will get camouflaged by the discussions of the past thanks to the latter’s qualitative longevity. But despite these challenges, if the player is able to prove his credibility, it would go on to emphasise him as the perfect successor to the realm of a cricketing legend.

Presently, it is Virat Kohli who has been unanimously picked to take over the reins of the batting position from Sachin Tendulkar. It has been a straight-forward choice so far, considering the importance of the position and the ability of the player concerned to do well to play at that position. Most importantly, the biggest positive about Virat Kohli coming in to bat at no.4 is that the position allows him to play his natural game and even dictate the match proceedings, if need may arise.

The fact that Kohli has been reasonably proficient in the test format, despite having made a recent foray into the Indian test team further emphasises his aptitude to take over from Sachin after his retirement. In the 19 matches that he has played so far, Kohli has garnered 1,178 runs at an average of about 40 runs, including four centuries and six half-centuries. These statistics suggest that he is only likely to get better with time, perhaps even going a step or two ahead of Tendulkar.

Though the latter still remains an unknown element for the present, selecting Virat Kohli to play in at no.4 would be giving him an adequate grooming period to flourish whilst ensuring that the team’s stability isn’t jostled or disturbed for the near future. Kohli’s taking over the position would also effectively balance out the team with respect to the rest of the batting order with Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and Ashwin finishing the entirety of the team’s batting composition.

Considering that an all important tour to South Africa awaits the Indian team immediately after the culmination of this series, it’s imperative that the Indian team not lose its winning momentum. While the Indian team would be riding high on the back of six – successive wins, it cannot discount the home advantage that it had enjoyed all this while. For Kohli too, the South African tour will be a significant opportunity not only shaping his future as an excellent par test player, but also proving his mettle and calibre as the no.4 batsman as Tendulkar did all those years ago.

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