Aakash Chopra, former Indian opener turned commentator was of the opinion that KL Rahul possesses the ability to score a double century in ODI cricket if he is allowed to bat at the top of the order.
He made this observation while responding to viewer questions in a video shared on his YouTube channel.
Aakash Chopra Asked About India’s Likely Limited Overs Opening Combination With Rohit Sharma Absent
The renowned commentator responded that Shikhar Dhawan who was 2nd highest run-scorer in IPL 2020 would surely be one of the openers. He added that India would have to choose between KL Rahul’s KXIP teammate Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul himself and Sanju Samson as the southpaw’s partner in the absence of vice-captain Rohit Sharma who is nursing hamstring injury. Interestingly, Rohit Sharma is the only player to score 3 double centuries in ODI.
“This question does not have an easy answer because Rohit is not there. So, the question is who will be opening with Shikhar, who will be one of the openers in ODIs and T20Is. Do you see Mayank Agarwal opening, that is a big question or will you see towards Sanju Samson or open with KL Rahul.”
Aakash Chopra stated that KL Rahul is unlikely as an opener if he does the dual role of keeping wickets unless the Indian team plays Sanju Samson as the gloveman in the middle order with the Karnataka batsman playing at the top of the order.
“But KL Rahul is your keeper as well. If KL Rahul is the keeper, then maybe not. But if you don’t make KL Rahul the keeper and play Sanju Samson for example, then KL Rahul can open and Sanju can bat at No.5 and keep stumps. That is a possibility as this team does not have Rishabh Pant.”
The 43-year-old commentator Aakash Chopra observed that the Indian team would do better justice to KL Rahul’s talent by allowing him to open the innings, and highlighted that the IPL 2020 Orange Cap winner has even the ability to score a double hundred in ODI cricket.
“My heart says that KL Rahul should open because the sort of player he is, he scores hundreds and in my opinion, if he plays very well he can even score a double hundred in ODIs. You have got to make him open if you want to do justice to his abilities.”
KL Rahul was the leading run-scorer in IPL 2020, amassing 670 runs while Shikhar Dhawan scored 618 runs including 2 back to back ton to take his team Delhi Capitals all the way to finals.
Aakash Chopra Believes Mayank Agarwal Will Open With Shikhar Dhawan While KL Rahul Bat In Middle Order As He Picks Probable XI
Aakash Chopra opined that Mayank Agarwal is likely to open the batting, with KL Rahul playing the finisher’s role apart from donning the wicket-keeping gloves alongside Hardik Pandya who would probably not bowl.
“But I don’t think they will make him open. The Indian team has decided to play him down the order, to play KL Rahul along with Hardik as the finisher. If that’s the case, then Mayank Agarwal is opening. Then KL Rahul will be keeping wickets as well.”
The former KKR player also named the probable playing XI that India is likely to field in the limited-overs series indicating picking bowlers like Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.
“So this is how the team will look like – Mayank with Shikhar, Kohli at No.3, Iyer at No.4, Rahul at No.5, Hardik at No.6, Jaddu at No.7 and after that four bowlers – Chahal, Bumrah, Shami and I will go with T Natarajan.”
Aakash Chopra signed off by stating that he would prefer to play T Natarajan ahead of Navdeep Saini to keep the latter fresh for the Test series that follows the limited over series.
“I will want T Natarajan to get a chance but it is possible that the team may play Navdeep Saini at the start. I am saving Navdeep Saini for the Test matches.”
With T Natarajan only selected in the T20I squad, the Indian team might have to play Shardul Thakur in the ODIs if they want to rest Navdeep Saini for the Test series. The team management has also already conveyed that they would be looking to rotate the pacers Japrit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, who have played consistently in the limited-overs matches to keep them fresh for the Test series.