Former India captain Sourav Ganguly disagrees with coach Ravi Shastri's idea of playing Virat Kohli at number 4 in the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup in England.
Talking exclusively to India TV, Ganguly was not on board with Shastri's idea of flexibility which could potentially see captain Kohli bat lower down the order than his usual number 3 slot. Kohli has been a proven match winner for India at number 3 and moreover, Ganguly reckons there is no ready replacement who can do a job in that position.
"Virat Kohli will be coming back in the series [against Australia] to play at No.3. I was reading in the papers that Ravi [Shastri] wants him to play at No.4 but I don't know who will play at No.3 then. Maybe Ambati Rayudu will play at No.3 with Kohli at No.4 but I don't think that it is the right move because Kohli at No.3 is a huge player and this is India's strength in ODIs – Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli," Ganguly said on an IndiaTV show on February 10.
Ganguly's response comes in light of Shastri's interview with Cricbuzz where he spoke about being flexible in the batting order in England and deciding upon the same based on the conditions of the pitch and sky.
"The good thing about this Indian top-three is we can separate them if conditions and situations demand. Someone like Virat Kohli can go to number four, and we can put a good number three to bring more balance to the batting line-up. That's flexibility for you, and for big tournaments like the World Cup, you have to be flexible to see what's the best balance for the side. So we will decide that (accordingly in England)," Shastri said.
Shastri added that he did not want to lose his best batsman early in bowler-friendly conditions.
"But we will assess that on seeing conditions in England. You don't want to be 18-3 or 16-4 in a big tournament. I don't care about bilateral ODIs, but why should I lose my best batsman early in a World Cup match (if the conditions are bowler friendly)? "
This is not the first time the former cricketers have been on opposite ends of the proverbial pole. There was reported tension between the two from Ganguly's playing days and it became rather public during India's coach selection saga. Ganguly had also once said on a chat show that Shastri's words should never be taken seriously, especially if it is early in the morning.
"Don't interview him in the morning. Don't bring him to a breakfast show. He doesn't remember anything in the morning. Interview him some time in the evening after he recollects his memory," is the rough English translation of what Ganguly had told the host of the show in Hindi.
Perhaps Ganguly was referring to hangovers.