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Kohli said Ajinkya Rahane is a strong candidate for the No 4 position in the batting order of the World Cup squad – considering the pitch conditions in England.

Ahead of the ODI series with South Africa, Indian skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday asserted that the Men in Blue will be using the opportunity to play with the ace cricketers of South Africa in run up to the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup – which is just 15 months away.

Claiming that the Indian core team for the limited over format is more or less sorted, Kohli said that ace batsman Ajinkya Rahane is a strong candidate for the No 4 position in the batting order – considering the pitch conditions in England.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the firebrand captain said, “We have explored many options in the last few months. We don’t have too many series and too much time left before the World Cup, so we want to explore all the options before the World Cup.”

“I had said earlier that Ajinkya Rahane would be looked at as a third opener but that situation can change because he has batted at No. 4 in a World Cup (in 2015) before. These conditions are such that you get to play fast bowling throughout the innings so he becomes a strong candidate for No. 4. Other than him we have Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey,” he added.

Further stating that the rest of the batting order of the team is more or less sorted, Kohli said, “Although the lower middle order is more or less sorted, the middle order is something we are still looking at. The combination is working well for us with Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni rotating and batting together.”

“No. 4 is something we have experimented with in the last couple of series. That is the only spot I can see that needs to be solidified otherwise the team looks pretty balanced,” added the Indian skipper.

Also stating that the team needs a balance between preparations and the challenge of the upcoming series, Kohli said the core team might change in the lead-up to the World Cup.

“It s about who takes that one particular spot (number four). It’s not even spots above and below. Guys who are given the opportunity need to capitalise and really string in performances that convince the management and the team very soon that that guy is meant to play at that spot for the team,” said Kohli.

“I feel the core of players is more or less pretty strong at the moment. Obviously changes can happen at any stage. You don’t know whether someone is going to be in form or not or what the team requires at certain stages,” he added.

Claiming that the present squad has enough potential but it is not necessary that a player performing well now will also yield good results during the World Cup in England, he said, “It is about finding players who fit a particular spot better in certain conditions. That will be our mindset. We will play the World Cup in England, which will be very different to what we get in India.”

“People who might be doing well at home might not necessarily repeat their performances in England. It’s very different. We will have to figure out which player’s game suits the team best in particular conditions that we play, at a particular spot,” added Kohli.

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