With Rohit Sharma returning to the T20I, India captain Virat Kohli confirmed that his first partner would be KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan would be with the team as a third start.
“We cannot accommodate all three openers in the playing XI. Out of Dhawan and Rahul, only one will find a place in the XI. KL (Rahul) and Rohit (Sharma) have been consistent performers. Those two will start,” Virat Kohli said at a hypothetical press conference ahead of India's first T20I match against England on Friday in Ahmedabad.
India faced a dilemma in picking first place against England in the five-game T20I series, as Rohit's return to the team would mean Rahul or Dhawan are excluded. Dhawan was not, however, in bad shape, scoring half a century against Australia and following him by 153 in the Vijay Hazare Cup. But in Rahul, India, you get an exploding opener that can slow you down depending on the situation. Rahul's vector preservation abilities are an added bonus as well.
“It’s quite simple, KL and Rohit have been performing at the top of the order for us and those two would start. If Rohit takes a rest or KL has a niggle or something Shikki (Shikhar Dhawan) obviously comes back as a third opener,” Kohli said.
Virat Kohli's decision to go with Rahul in place of Dhawan was supported by former India batsman at VS Laxman and former coach MSK Prasad. Laxman said that given the T20 World Cup, Rahul would be a better pick despite Dwan's level.
“It will be a tough question, as far as the selection of the second opener is concerned. There’s no doubt about that because Rohit Sharma is an automatic choice in white-ball cricket. I will still go with KL Rahul because over the last few months and years I think the Indian team management went with KL Rahul as an opening batsman and he has done really well in that position,” Laxman said on Star Sports’ Cricket Connected show.
Ind vs Eng 1st T20: ‘Bhuvneshwar Kumar key to India’s plans’
The other place already occupied in the starting line-up against England is Hovneshwar Kumar's pacemaker. Bovanishwar, returning from injury, will lead India's swift attack in the absence of Jaspert Bumrah and Muhammad Shami. Kohli said throwing the UP remains key to India's plans for the T20 World Cup to be held in India in October.
“Bhuvneshwar is shaping up really well. He's back, he's in good shape. He has done very well to get back to his highs and looks like a smart worker, and we've seen him in the past. He continues to bring this experience to the field that will be vital to us.” Kohli said at the conference The journalist "has a clear understanding of what he wants to do in the future."
Bhuvneshwar last played for India in the T20I series against the West Indies in December 2019 and was sidelined due to injury. But he returned to IPL and local cricket after his recovery.
“He wants to contribute towards many more Indian wins in the coming months. Obviously in the T20 World Cup, we would need our most experienced T20 bowler and he is right up there with anyone else in the world in the start, in the middle, and in the death as well. He is a guy you can bank on and I am very glad to have him back. Hopefully, he can build strongly from here and be as ready as he is now for the World Cup,” Kohli said.
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