India captain Virat Kohli had cautioned against "panic" after the hosts plummeted to a 10-wicket defeat to Australia in Mumbai, and admitted that a "rethink" was needed when it came to the renovated batting order.
Kohli, in a bid to address the long-term top-order problem, came in to bat at No. 4 in the first ODI at the Wankhede Stadium, an unusual position for him but one, that in the larger scheme of things, continues to be a pain point for his side. Kohli has admitted that the move to bat two-down "didn't come off" on the night but argued how it might do some long-term good. It means that in-form players get match time.
"It's about giving some guys opportunities," he said after the match. "Every now and then, it's about putting people up there and testing them. People need to relax and not panic with one game. I am allowed to experiment a little bit and fail at times. Today was one of the days it didn't come off."
India have struggled to fit in both Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul in the side, with the former mostly preferred as Rohit Sharma's opening partner when the need to choose has arisen. Even in the World Cup, KL Rahul was initially India's No. 4 batsman before Dhawan's injury thrust him to the forefront of the batting line-up.
Rahul has taken his chances whenever they have come by, in ODIs or T20Is. He twinned with Rohit to stitch together the most successful opening partnership in ODIs through all of 2019, topping the numbers racked by Dhawan and Rohit in significantly less number of innings. Rahul even took his chances in the series against West Indies, hitting his first ODI hundred at home when Dhawan was sitting out with another injury. With the 34-year-old fit again now, Rahul finds himself batting down the order. He made 47 off 61 balls batting at No. 3 today. Kohli, who walked in to bat in the 28th over of the innings, could only muster 16 off 14.
'We've had this discussion many times in the past as well," Kohli said about Rahul's batting position. "Because of the way KL (Rahul) has been batting, we have tried to fit him in the batting line-up. But I don't think it's gone quite our way whenever I batted at four so probably will have to rethink that one."
The second of the three ODIs will be played in Rajkot on Friday (January 17) and another flat wicket is set to test India again. What top-three will they go with?