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Virat Kohli says Indian cricket team must back openers, not look for new ones

Virat Kohli said the recent poor form of openers will be addressed in due time but the Indian cricket team captain is confident that the likes of KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan will find form very soon

cricket Updated: Jan 23, 2017 14:47 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Virat Kohli,KL Rahul,Rohit Sharma
Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli says the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul will soon find form.(PTI)

Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team’s 2-1 ODI series win over England was full of positives. With seniors like Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni showing their old class, youngsters like Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav too showed their ability to the team over the line.

However, the opening batsmen have come under fire for poor starts in their last two home series against New Zealand and England but captain Kohli says now is the time to give them support not show them the door.

The hosts defeated New Zealand 3-2 and won the three-match ODI series against England 2-1 but there was not a single 50-run partnership at the top of innings.

Poor starts

While 49 was the highest opening partnership between Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane in the five ODIs against New Zealand, India’s first-wicket stands against England were 13, 14 and 13.

Lokesh Rahul played all three games against England, scoring eight, five and 11, while partner Shikhar Dhawan managed one and 11 before making way for Rahane, who was out for one in Sunday’s third ODI in Kolkata.

India have no more 50-over matches scheduled before they defend their Champions Trophy title in England in June but Kohli is confident the problems will be sorted out by then.

Areas of concern

“Whatever areas or concerns we have, we’ll address them,” Kohli said. “First we didn’t have an opening problem, it was an issue with the middle order. Now the middle order has been sorted.

“We have very good openers with us. It’s not a case where we have to find openers. You have to give chances for people to come back into form.

“I think if we back our openers and give them confidence, it’s all about one or two innings in international cricket. Once you get the flow, everything clicks.”

Injuries have compounded India’s opening issues as the team have been unable to give an extended run to a batting pair.

Sharma has not played any cricket since hurting his thigh in the final ODI against New Zealand at the end of October while Rahul and Dhawan missed the series against the Black Caps with injuries.

Sharma, who holds the record individual ODI score of 264, is expected to return to face the new ball during the June 1-18 tournament but India would have to take a decision on who would partner the right-hander.

Focus on positives

Despite the lack of solid starts, India were still able to score over 300 runs in all three ODIs against England and Kohli would rather focus on the positives.

“The Champions Trophy (in 2013) is where we saw Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan as an opening-pair revelation,” Kohli said.

“We have played only at 70-75 percent potential as a batting unit. If we play at 100 percent I don’t know how many runs we can score.”

(With inputs from Reuters)

First Published: Jan 23, 2017 14:47 IST