'No. 3 is proper top-order slot. He is being prepared for 2023 WC': Ex-national selector's bold take on India youngster

Published on Aug 15, 2022 07:09 AM IST

The 22-year-old is currently enjoying a stellar form in world cricket but with Rahul coming to the fore, the young batter's run at the top might pause for a while.

Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson and Shubman Gill(Getty Images)
Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson and Shubman Gill(Getty Images)
By, New Delhi

With KL Rahul back in the mix for the Zimbabwe ODIs, the Indian team management can dish out a new opening pair, as young Shubman Gill waits for a chance on the back of impressive performances in the West Indies. He may not be a certainty but with India taking a second-string side for 50-over games in Zimbabwe, Gill can be slotted in the top-3, if not picked as an opener in Shikhar Dhawan's presence.

With his sound batting technique in West Indies, Gill scored 64, 43 and 98 not out in three ODI games to win the 'Player of the Series' award. The 22-year-old is currently enjoying a stellar form in world cricket but with Rahul coming to the fore, the young batter's run at the top might pause for a while.

Former Test opener Devang Gandhi feels Gill can come in at the No. 3 spot, while Rahul opens alongside Dhawan for the 50-over series, starting August 18 in Harare.

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Rahul was recovering from a sports hernia surgery and was supposed to play the West Indies series before testing positive for Covid-19. The star batter got clearance from the medical team and he will be leading the side and getting valuable game time before the Asia Cup 2022.

"I think Shubman is being groomed in the right way by the Indian team management. While he has done exceedingly well in the Caribbean ODIs, what I can gauge from this team's philosophy is to prepare players for multiple slots. Hence I feel for this particular series, Shubman might have to come in at No. 3," the former national selector told PTI.

"Look, No. 3 is a proper top-order slot. He might have to come in as early as second ball of the innings and that is as good as opening the batting. Also, my hunch is that once Rahul has enough game time under his belt, he will again bat middle-order with Gill being prepared for 2023 event," Gandhi added.

India have tried multiple opening combinations in the lead-up to this year's World T20. Suryakumar Yadav was seen opening alongside skipper Rohit Sharma in the recent West Indies assignment.

Before the experiment, India tried out – Rohit Sharma-Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson-Rohit Sharma, Ruturaj Gaikwad-Ishan Kishan, Deepak Hooda-Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson-Ishan Kishan and Rohit Sharma-Rishabh Pant.

Former India player Deep Dasgupta said Gill will be groomed for next year's ODI World Cup, but the priority right now is Rahul getting in the groove.

"I agree it is difficult after you have had such a good series. But currently, the aim would be to prepare Rahul for the Asia Cup T20's opening slot. He needs to get a lot of batting time and that's a priority. I think it will be a short-term arrangement as Shubman I feel is being groomed as an opener for the ODI World Cup," said Dasgupta.

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