India National Cricket Team (Credits: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra has suggested a couple of possible changes to the Indian lineup for the second T20I against Ireland, which will be played on Tuesday, June 28.

The Men In Blue registered a convincing seven-wicket win in the first T20I between the two sides. However, Ruturaj Gaikwad suffered an injury while fielding during that game and did not bat during the Indian innings.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra Suggests That Venkatesh Iyer Should Open If Ruturaj Gaikwad Isn’t Fit For The 2nd T20I

In a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra reckons pace all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer can open instead of Ruturaj Gaikwad if the latter is unfit for Tuesday’s game.

He reasoned: “The first big question is Ruturaj Gaikwad’s availability. If he doesn’t open, who will do? I feel you will give an opportunity to Venkatesh Iyer. If he is not worthy of playing, you don’t want to play him, why have you kept him in the team. You don’t go on a tourist visa.”

Venkatesh Iyer (Getty)
Venkatesh Iyer (Getty)

However, the cricketer-turned-commentator pointed out that Ruturaj Gaikwad should continue to play as an opener if he is fit and available.

Aakash Chopra observed: “Play Venkatesh Iyer and get him to open. I believe if you have kept Venkatesh Iyer continuously in the team, you will play him some time at least. If he (Gaikwad) is there, he should open, there is no issue in that.”

Venkatesh Iyer has represented Team India in nine T20Is to date, scoring 133 runs at an impressive strike rate of 162.19. However, he has never batted at the top of the order in international cricket, with five of his seven innings in T20Is coming at the No. 6 spot.

Venkatesh Iyer of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) had a sensational run in the UAE leg of IPL 2021 by amassing 370 runs in just 10 games.  He opened in his debut IPL season. In IPL 2022, however, Venkatesh Iyer struggled for runs, scoring just 182 runs from 12 matches averaging 16.55, a stark contrast to his numbers last year – 370 from 10 games averaging 41.11.

Aakash Chopra Wants Sanju Samson And Rahul Tripathi To Get A Chance In 2nd T20I

Aakash Chopra feels Sanju Samson is likely to be preferred over uncapped Rahul Tripathi as an opening option if Rutraj Gaikwad is unavailable and the Indian team doesn’t want to open with Venkatesh Iyer. So far, Sanju Samson has played one ODI and 13 T20Is for India scoring 46 and 174 runs respectively.

Sanju Samson has struggled to replicate his IPL exploits at the international level as the Kerala batter, who made his debut in 2015, has managed 174 runs at a meager average of 14.50 in 14 T20Is.

He explained:“But if he (Gaikwad) is not there, I don’t see you opening with Deepak Hooda again. Sanju Samson and Rahul Tripathi are sitting out, those are also a couple of options. Can you actually start thinking along those lines? I feel Sanju will get a chance, Rahul Tripathi will be in an even lower list.”

Sanju Samson is a part of India's squad for the series against Ireland© BCCI
Sanju Samson is a part of India’s squad for the series against Ireland© BCCI

The 44-year-old believes Venkatesh Iyer can play instead of Axar Patel in such a scenario.

Aakash Chopra elaborated: “I am saying you can play him (Venkatesh) instead of Axar Patel, go for another fast-bowling option. Hardik is anyway bowling well, your bowling is not going to fall short, considering the lack of depth in the opposition camp as regards to batting.”

Axar Patel conceded 12 runs in the only over he bowled in the first T20I against Ireland. The Indian team management could consider replacing him with Venkatesh Iyer but the latter might not get to bat if he is slotted at No. 7 in the batting order.