Despite their dominance in ODIs, Team India are concerned about their wobbly middle order. The lack of a solid option at No. 4 had been a huge cause for concern, especially in the lead up to the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England.
Since the Sri Lanka tour of last year, the Men in Blue have been searching for an ideal No. 4 by trying more than six batsmen, including the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik and even Hardik Pandya, at the crucial spot without much success.
Cut to October 2018, it seems India can finally afford to end the musical chair and persist with Ambati Rayudu at No. 4.
Vice-captain Rohit Sharma believes Ambati Rayudu has helped India solve the No. 4 conundrum and thereby sealed his spot in the 2019 World Cup squad.
The India opener's comments came after Rayudu struck his third ODI century in the team's 224-run win over the West Indies in the fourth ODI of an ongoing five-match series at home on Monday.
Rayudu walked into bat when India had just lost captain Virat Kohli cheaply at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai. The 33-year-old paced his innings wonderfully well as he started slowly before accelerating towards the end during his 81-ball 100.
The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) star also stitched a 211-run stand with Rohit, who hit his seventh 150-plus score — 137-ball 162.
"I think [it was a] very important [knock]. Hopefully, he has solved all the mysteries of number 4. I guess till the World Cup, there won't be any talk of number 4," Rohit told the media in Mumbai on Monday.
"[Rayudu] batted brilliantly because at that point a big partnership was needed and it was a perfect platform for him also to showcase what he's got. There was pressure, of course, losing top two batsmen and building a partnership was important.
"We have known Rayudu for a long time and he can produce innings like this. That's probably the reason we got him at number four and he has not disappointed. Whatever opportunities he has got since Asia Cup in this series he has grabbed it with both hands."
Rayudu, who was not in the selector's radar after he was dropped from the ODI side in 2016, got a new lease of life during Indian Premier League 2018. Opening the innings for CSK, the seasoned campaigner smashed 602 runs, including a century in the MS Dhoni-led team's title-winning run.
Rayudu though had to wait to make his comeback as he was dropped after being drafted into the India squad for ODIs in England earlier this year over failure to clear the yo-yo test.
Nonetheless, the rejuvenated Hyderabad batsman stormed back into the side during the Asia Cup and has never looked back since. He has scored 392 runs, including three half-centuries and a century, in 10 matches since his comeback into the team in September.
India will be well-served if Kedar Jadhav can remain injury-free as the handy all-rounder can add to the firepower of the team by batting at No. 6 and rolling the arm over with his slingy action.