'Rahul needs match practice. Gill in good form': Kaif picks Shikhar Dhawan's opening partner for India vs Zimbabwe ODIs

Published on Aug 16, 2022 06:43 PM IST

KL Rahul's inclusion in the squad has added to the huge heap of openers in India's disposal for the Zimbabwe ODI series. Former cricketer Mohammad Kaif decided to choose between Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill for the opening role.

Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill during the 3rd ODI match between West Indies and India, at Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain.(ICC Twitter)
Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill during the 3rd ODI match between West Indies and India, at Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain.(ICC Twitter)
ByNeelav Chakravarti

With KL Rahul replacing Shikhar Dhawan as captain, Team India is set to face Zimbabwe in a three-match ODI series starting from Thursday in Harare. Dhawan has been demoted to the vice-captaincy role for the tour and Rahul's arrival adds to the huge heap of openers in India's disposal. Focus will be on India's management on how they stitch together a good enough playing XI for the first ODI, especially there being stiff competition for the opening slot.

Other than Rahul and Dhawan, the visitors also have Shubman Gill, who is an opener. Meanwhile, Ishan Kishan and Ruturaj Gaikwad have also been included in the squad and the pair can also don the role of openers. After Rahul's inclusion, many fans took to social media stating that Gill could be demoted down the order. The young opener has been a regular mainstay in the Indian unit as an opener recently and also opened with Dhawan against West Indies.

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Experts also feel the management could go for Rahul to open with Dhawan, keeping the upcoming Asia Cup 2022 in mind where the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) skipper is expected to bat at the top. Speaking to Hindustan Times during a brief media interaction, former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif shared his perspective on who should open for India in Zimbabwe and pointed out Rahul's flexibility in the batting order.

"KL Rahul has played at No. 5 for India in ODIs before. But if he wants match practice, he can open, but he has played at No. 5 before. Gill is in good form, he made a good partnership with Shikhar Dhawan in the West Indies", Kaif said.

"Both Gill and Dhawan are in good form. So they can open and Rahul can come down at No. 3. Rahul needs match practice and he was injured, so it all depends on him and he is the captain. It's his wish where he wants to bat as he is captain. But according to me, Shubman Gill and Shikhar Dhawan performed well against the West Indies and you would want to see them as openers. KL Rahul can bat at no. 3 also in Zimbabwe", he further added.

In the ODI series against West Indies, Gill was India's star batter and ended as their highest run-scorer with 205 runs from three matches at an excellent average of 102.50. The youngster registered two half-centuries, including a 98-run knock in the third ODI. But then there is Rahul, whose records speak for himself. Having not played a single T20I for India, India's stand-in captain would eagerly be looking for some much-needed match practice ahead of the Asia Cup.

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