Virat Kohli India South Africa
Virat Kohli should be the No.3 batsman for India. Period.Reuters

Even if MS Dhoni had pulled off the chase for India in the end, there would have been, rightly, one question hovering in the air: Why did Virat Kohli not come in at No.3?

Ajinkya Rahane came in ahead of the India vice-captain and played a decent little knock of 60, which came off 82 balls and only had five fours.

While that 149-run partnership with Rohit Sharma, who was sublime again, set the game up for India, it put Kohli in a tricky situation.

Kohli is not your power player, the last-few-overs finisher – he is the one who stays at one end and does what needs to be done to haul that target down.

The Test captain needs to come in early – if the openers have a big partnership, fine – someone who needs that newish white ball thumping off the middle of his blade. Because, the longer Kohli stays at the crease, the better India's chances of winning the match.

After all, Kohli is the best run-chasing top order batsman India have had for quite a while. So, Dhoni's insistence that the decision to play Rahane at No.3 was the correct one, does not quite make sense.

"When Ajinkya bats at No. 3, if you look at what follows -- Virat Kohli at four, me at five, Suresh Raina at six and Stuart Binny at seven," Dhoni said when asked about his thinking behind holding Kohli back. "When you are chasing, it looks like a settled lineup with players who have power and at the same time, experience.

"That was the main reason we said Rahane should bat up the order, otherwise someone like Ambati Rayudu can bat lower. When Jinks (Rahane) bats at the top of the order, if you see this lineup, it looks very strong. It looks as if it has all the ingredients."

Nope, it does not. Because 60 from 82 balls, at a strike rate of 73.17 is just not good enough in a chase of over 300, even if his partner at the other end was going strong.

There is absolutely no way that Kohli would be on just 60 if he had played those 82 balls. At least another 20 runs would have been added, and easy as pie the complexion of the chase would have been completely different.

While all the blame cannot be put at Rahane's door, there is absolutely no way for Dhoni or anyone else to justify not sending India's best batsman, someone who has won you games time and again, at No.3.

Had Kohli come in and scored, like he so often does in chases, India would have won this game at a canter. Imagine, Rohit and Kohli gliding, caressing and timing the ball to death – it would have been a cruise wouldn't it.

Yes, the death bowling for India was poor – and probably the main reason why the team lost the match – and yes, Ashwin not being able to bowl was a big blow. However, while there were much greater faults in the match for India than Rahane's performance/Dhoni's decision to send him early, what cannot be denied is that India are a much better batting unit, when Kohli is batting at No.3.

Hopefully, Dhoni will revert back to that batting order – if Rahane can't bat down the order, then Ambati Rayudu, even if he is yet to convince, should come in -- come the second ODI on Wednesday, especially if India are chasing again.

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