Who should bat #4 for India in the World Cup?


  1. M.S. Dhoni should bat for India at #4 if the competition is between Rayudu, Karthik and Dhoni. Dhoni has been India’s most consistent batsman at #4 (whenever he has batted at #4). Getting Dhoni in early (India’s #4 walks in on average around the 17th to 20th over) – will also give Dhoni enough time to settle in and be at his fearsome best at the death overs.
  2. Between Rayudu & Karthik – Karthik has been more consistent at #4. Since Karthik can bat down the order as well and give India the power finish – Karthik is the more versatile option in the Indian squad.
  3. Any choice of #4 that India has is weak if they have to come in to bat in the power-play. Rohit, Dhawan & Kohli have to bat through 1-15.
  4. Statistics does not share the same love for Rayudu that Shastri & Kohli seem to have for him. He is below average at best.
  5. A left field selection for the #4 position could be Rahane. Since the last world cup, he has performed the best from the #4 position.


Who will be India’s #4. It has been a constant problem for India and many a pundit has weighed in on the best player to bat after Rohit, Dhawan and Virat. In this article, we ask statistics to weigh in.

We will use a small variant of the common metrics used to judge batsman. We count the average as the total runs scored divided by the total at-bats (i.e., being not out does not count in our metric). We define the Strike Rate as the average strike rate over the games in which the batsman batted (instead of total runs / total balls). Finally, we filter out players who have scored fewer than 100 runs from the #4 position. The following #4 batsmen qualify for analysis. Of these, we can rule out Yuvraj Singh and Manish Pandey from the World Cup plans. We focus on the remaining players.

Ambati Rayudu 14 innings
Ajinkya Rahane 13 innings
Mahendra Singh Dhoni   12 innings
Yuvraj Singh 9 innings
Dinesh Karthik 7 innings
Manish Pandey 6 innings

Stacking up v/s the rest of the world

Let us first look at how the India #4 batsmen compare against the rest of the world (defined here as the 9 other teams in the world cup).  Barring centuries, the  India #4’s under consideration have  performed close to the world average from the position.

Metric Rest of WC Teams India (w/o Yuvraj, Pandey, Pandya)
# of innings 492 50
<= 20 runs 176 ( 36%) 20 (40%)
Mean (Median) 38 (30) 36 (28.5)
50s / 100s 159 (32%) / 35 (7%) 14 (28%) / 1 (2%)

India’s top-3 have been exemplary in the past 4 years. We now, therefore slice the performance of our probables by when they have walked in to bat. A top order failure means they come in during the power-play. If they come in to bat between overs 11 and 35, we classify those innings as “middle over innings” .

The India top-3 fail only at about 1/2 the rate at which the top-3 from the rest of the world fail. But, when they fail,  our #4 also tend to fail. The #4 falls for less than 20 runs when they come in early about 55% of the time, compared to a world average failure rate of only 35%. Also, the strike rate when the #4 comes in early is significantly low. With only 11 innings, the sample size is too small to draw conclusions however.

Rest of the Teams India
Power Play # of Innings 220 (46%) 11 (22%)
Mean (Median) 41 (31) 37 (18)
50s / 100s 77 (35%) /18 4 (36%) /0
Failures (<20) 78 (35%) 6 (55%)
Strike Rate 69 / 100 balls 54 / 100 balls

In the middle overs, barring the strike rate at the death and the lack of centuries, the Indian #4 has performed close to the world average.

Rest of the Teams India
Middle Overs # of Innings 255 35
Mean (Median) 37 (29) 39 (34)
50s / 100s 77 (30%)/17 10 (29%)/1
Failures (<20) 80 (31%) 10 (29%)
Strike Rate 84 (124 @ death) 79 (103 @ death)

How do the players stack up?

Rahane’s performance stands out compared to the rest of the batsman from the #4 position. It is a mystery why Rahane has been given a short leash at the position. Probably a matter of perception over performance.  Rayudu has had the most opportunities to bat from within the power-play, but he has not made much use of it. The high variance of Rayudu’s performance can be seen from the fact that his mean and median are the most apart. With a median score of 22 across 14 innings, Rayudu has essentially failed 1/2 the # of times he has batted for India from #4 (also see strike rate).  Among, Rayudu, Dhoni and Karthik, Dhoni has been the most consistent – and the closest player to the “average” #4 from the world.  Karthik has played well given the limited opportunities. Given that Karthik can be a back up keeper, is an excellent finisher and has leadership chops (also much better in the field than Rayudu), Karthik should edge out Rayudu in the final 15. Finally, none of the 4 batsmen shine if they have to bat early – which is perhaps the biggest concern with the Indian squad. 

Total Innings

(middle overs)

<10 runs 10 – 29 runs 30 – 49 runs 50 – 75 runs >75 runs
Rayudu 14 (8) 3 (0) 6 (5) 2 (2) 1 (0) 2 (1)
Dhoni 12 (7) 3 (1) 2 (1) 4 (4) 1 (1) 2 (1)
Karthik 7 (5) 1 (0) 2 (2) 2 (1) 2 (2)
Rahane 13 (11) 3 (3) 3 (2) 2 (2) 1 (1) 4 (3)


Mean Median >=50 conversion SR
Rest of World 37 28 30% 78
Rayudu 33 22 21.4% 66
Dhoni 37 37 25% 76
Karthik 33 31 28.5% 71
Rahane 41 34 38.4% 78


1 thought on “Who should bat #4 for India in the World Cup?”

  1. Heyy Kaushik,
    One factor which i would like to be factored in to make a decision to bat number 4 is “Partnerships”.
    Within this there could be an emphasis on
    – run outs involved in
    – RunRate *of partnership *before wicket *percentageofboundaries

    This would also let us know how good the player is in terms of rotating the strike and playing accordance of the team needs

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