While there have been umpteen suggestions on who should take up India's No. 4 batting spot at the World Cup, former captain Kapil Dev does not believe the concept of slots applies in modern-day cricket.
At the end of nearly every IPL match, a number of names - including the likes of Vijay Shankar, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu and Sanju Samson - have been suggested by former players for the much-discussed spot, the only one that India are seemingly still unsure about. While India have tested a few names at the position with varied degree of success in the recent past, players like Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer have also admitted that they would fit the bill.
So, has Kapil put the debate to rest?
"One should not get confused. Play like you want to win the match and don't go by the number" KAPIL DEV
"There's a lot of talk going on about No. 4, but you have to see the situation at that moment," Kapil said, at an event hosted by Britannia that reunited him with Kris Srikkanth, Syed Kirmani and Roger Binny, members of the 1983 World Cup-winning squad.
"I don't think anybody these days have numbers [fixed positions in the line-up] - need of the hour is more important. You can send MS Dhoni, or anybody. No. 1 to 7 are all good enough to play there. One should not get confused. Play like you want to win the match and don't go by the number. It should depend on the situation of the match."
Though he has been backed by various pundits, Rishabh Pant might not be a certainty to make the XI, but Srikkanth expected the wicketkeeper-batsman to make the cut, pointing to his match-winning abilities.
"Rishabh Pant almost won a Test match from a no-win situation in England [The Oval Test, 2018]," Srikkanth pointed out. "You need to give him confidence. In my days, Kapil gave me that freedom. Like that Rishabh Pant should be given the freedom to play; he's capable of winning at least three matches single-handedly."
Kapil, however, felt upcoming wicketkeeper-batsmen have a lot more to prove that they are dependable, especially considering that Dhoni has set high standards playing that role.
"Dhoni has set the standard so high. They [other wicketkeeper-batsmen] have the ability and talent. Only the execution over a period of time is needed and it won't happen overnight," Kapil said. "Yes, they've done a couple of good performances but the standard is really high in today's team. They have a long way to go."
While speaking of the importance of allrounders in the Indian team, Kapil also said that Dhoni was on top of his list.
"Is a batsman-bowler the only allrounder? You can now say even a wicketkeeper is an allrounder. The meaning of allrounder is changed. It's not just about a batsman who makes runs and takes wickets," he argued. "Wicketkeeper should also be on this list. That way, Dhoni comes in very high. If you're good in two departments - any two departments - everyone will come under that if you include fielding."
Former wicketkeeper Kirmani was also of the same view. "In our era, nobody considered a wicketkeeper an allrounder. Dhoni came and proved it. A wicketkeeper has to be an allrounder and since the advent of ODIs, there was more emphasis on a batsman and a wicketkeeper. Now a wicketkeeper is also an allrounder."
On being asked what the difference was between the 1983 World Cup squad and the current Indian squad, Kapil quipped: "They don't have us, that's the difference."