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India vs New Zealand: Virat Kohli explains KL Rahul’s omission from ODI series

KL Rahul, the young opening batsman, was dropped from the Indian ODI side for the three-match series against New Zealand starting in Mumbai on Sunday while R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja continued to be kept out of the limited-overs squads.

india vs new zealand 2017 Updated: Oct 21, 2017 17:34 IST
Devarchit Verma
Devarchit Verma
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
India vs New Zealand,Virat Kohli,KL Rahul
KL Rahul was excluded from the Indian cricket squad which will face New Zealand in the three ODIs.(AFP)

India skipper Virat Kohli said on Saturday KL Rahul was omitted for the three-match ODI series against New Zealand as the team management felt it should not force the talented young Test opener into batting in the middle-order.

KL Rahul, who has cemented the opening slot in Test cricket, struggled in the middle-order during the ODI series in Sri Lanka, where he had to face spin straight up. Experienced Dinesh Karthik has come in for KL Rahul.

Chief selector MSK Prasad had said KL Rahul would be India’s preferred No 4 batsman in ODIs, much like Virat Kohli saying Ajinkya Rahane would only be used as opener in the shorter formats.

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Kohli told reporters at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday, ahead of the first ODI versus New Zealand: “We certainly look to give chances to guys who we think have the ability to perform at this level. It is not a situation where you start giving opportunities to people so much that you compromise on winning the series due to lack of experience.

“We need to strike that balance regularly. (In) this series Dinesh Karthik has come in for KL (Rahul). We felt because KL mostly opens, we don’t want to have a situation like Jinks (Ajinkya Rahane) was going through in between; having to play in the middle-order forcefully because of what the top order was doing.

“We thought it is better he (KL Rahul) gets some game time in the First-Class level. So we got Dinesh, who has always played in the middle-order…”

‘Don’t want to confuse Rahane’

Ajinkya Rahane was solid opening in the 4-1 ODI series win over Australia, but is expected to sit out with Shikhar Dhawan’s return to the squad.

Kohli said: “He (Rahane) has definitely grabbed his opportunities as the third opener because as I mentioned there was KL as well competing for the spot for a bit. But Jinks has really performed well; that is how dynamics of a team works. When you have four guys who play in the same position then obviously one of them will have to miss out; even in the three, only two can play.

Indian captain Virat Kohli (L) and teammates Hardik Pandya (C), Ajinkya Rahane (R) and Axar Patel talk during a training session at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. (AFP)

“Again as I mentioned, we do not want to confuse him too much making him play in the middle-order because you need to find your game in ODI cricket, you need to understand how to go about things and he has always been very solid at the top of the order because of his technique. And he likes playing there as well; it gives him freedom to go after the bowlers a bit.

“Jinks is in a happy space. He knows whenever someone is not going through a good phase or if there is injury, he is right at the doorstep waiting to play a game whenever the team requires him to.”

Creating a pool of bowlers

Virat Kohli also addressed questions about the bowling combination with spinners R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja continued to be kept out of the limited-overs sides.

“We always had in mind bringing wrist spinners; we honestly did not think of playing two together (Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav), but they are so good together it is very tempting to play them together every game.

“Also, we will have to see how much we have exposed certain bowlers who are playing formats for us. It is a rhythm thing. With batsmen it is very different; with bowlers it is even more difficult.

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“You really need to change the way you bowl according to formats. That can hamper the most important format, which is Test cricket for us. It has been a combination of both; giving guys chances as well as understanding the workload of bowlers who have played for a while,” he said.

“Ashwin and Jadeja have played for last 6-7 years in limited-overs cricket regularly. These youngsters have stepped up, and it creates a strong pool for us before the World Cup.

“And you know, contrary to a lot of things being said left, right and centre, we understand how the dynamics of this team are going forward, and that is something which will be very hard to explain. People only count results and right now we are getting the results. So, we are very happy with it.”

First Published: Oct 21, 2017 17:31 IST