KL Rahul the main option to open with Rohit Sharma in Sri Lanka Twenty20s
KL Rahul, who has not played for the Indian cricket team since the limited-overs series in Sri Lanka, is the frontrunner to open the batting with Rohit Sharma in the upcoming Twenty20 International series.india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Dec 19, 2017 18:04 IST
Unless they do a Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and start with a pinch-hitter, who partners skipper Rohit Sharma to open India’s innings could be a point of interest in the T20 International series against Sri Lanka starting here on Wednesday.
Given the composition of this squad, KL Rahul, who has a Twenty20 International century, looks a frontrunner and his getting into the nets early on Tuesday afternoon did nothing to dispel the notion at the Barabati Stadium. But Rahul hasn’t been considered for that role since the sole T20 against Sri Lanka last September where he made 24 off 18 balls with three fours.
Rahul was also Virat Kohli’s opening partner in the three-match series against England in January-February. He made 8 (9b, 1x4), 71 (47b, 4x7, 2x6) and 22 (18b, 2x4). And he missed IPL 2017 with a shoulder injury.
Against Australia and New Zealand it was the Rohit-Shikhar Dhawan combination that opened. Rahul was not in the squad against Australia and didn’t play against New Zealand. He hasn’t played the shorter version since the limited-overs series in Sri Lanka.
Rahul began the current series against Sri Lanka with a first-ball duck. However, he has had a good run in Tests, having notched up nine half-centuries in his last 12 innings.
Team combinations aren’t usually revealed at the pre-match media conference but during the blink-and-you-miss session Dinesh Karthik had before training, he ruled himself out of opening the innings.
“Where I will bat depends on the situation and the number of overs. I could go up and down a little but I see myself at No 4 or No 5,” said Karthik.
The wicket-keeper batsman who doesn’t wear the gloves as MS Dhoni plays last opened for India in the World T20 in 2010 and didn’t in IPL 2017. Neither has Shreyas Iyer or Manish Pandey; the former skipped training but the latter went in early at the nets.
On India having three to choose from as openers in Tests, Virat Kohli had said in Kolkata: “That situation has been there for some time and the balance swings every now and then with one of them missing out. It becomes very difficult to pick two when all three are playing so well. They have different skills and different strengths and they understand that one of them has to miss out.”
The context then was having Dhawan, Murali Vijay and Rahul as options to open. It will be interesting to see whether, with an eye on the future, India are looking to get three to tango for the opening slot in the shortest form as well. Or make that four because Kohli too has batted at the top of the order for India and Royal Challengers Bangalore.