India faced a humbling 10-wicket loss in the first ODI of the three-match series against Australia at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. David Warner and Aaron Finch slammed tons as Australia cruised to victory with 74 balls to spare. The host side's strategy to play KL Rahul at three, with Indian captain Virat Kohli shifting down to fourth position failed to reap rewards, as the pace of run-scoring proved detrimental.
The shift in Kohli's position justifiably also caused Shreyas Iyer to come at number five, disturbing the Indian middle-order once again. Iyer slammed two half-centuries in three ODIs at fourth position during the series against West Indies last month.
Former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar voiced his criticism over the side's decision to make changes in the batting order, shooting a warning for the team.
"It is not a great move as it pushes Shreyas Iyer down to five after you gave him time to settle at number four (in the earlier series)," said Manjrekar.
"If India continue with this, it might be pushed to the same situation that it was in the past."
India had a fair share of trouble with the middle-order over the past few years. The team management failed to stabilize the middle-order (and fourth position in particular) in the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup, which was a significant factor in the side's loss in the semifinal. While Ambati Rayudu played at fourth position in the final ODI series for the side before the World Cup, Vijay Shankar was preferred over the batsman in the World Cup, while KL Rahul became the first-choice player for the number 4.
Injury issues caused further trouble to the side, with an inexperienced Rishabh Pant walking out at the fourth position in the all-important semifinal of the tournament.
After the loss in the first ODI, Indian captain Virat Kohli also acknowledged that the side 'might have to think' over the batting order again.
"We’ve had this discussion in the past. Because of the way KL has batted, we have tried to have him bat up in the lineup. We might have to think about this. Every now and then, it’s about putting people up there and testing them. People need to relax and not panic. Today was one of the days it didn’t come off," said Kohli during the post-match presentation.