Selecting the best opening pair will be one of the conundrum’s that Virat Kohli, India’s new limited-overs skipper, will face when he leads the team on the field against England in the first ODI at Pune on Sunday.
Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane are the two who are returning from injuries. Dhawan, in all likelihood, looks all set to retain his place as an opener whereas Rahane, who was elevated in the batting order during the ODI series against New Zealand, will most likely be his partner despite a poor run in that series. This means that KL Rahul, who scored a century on his ODI debut as an opener, will most probably bat at number four.
When asked about the same, skipper Virat Kohli did not open his cards and dodged the question saying that all three players are in good space and a decision over this will be taken before the game.
“A player like Shikhar, everyone is aware of his ability. You try to keep that player in good space because once he is clear in his head, he can really take the game away from the opposition. This is what we try to do. Give him as much space as possible. Not speak too much about the game. That is something I like to do. Knowing the kind of player Shikhar is, kind of person he is, it’s better to leave a guy like that to his own planning and own thinking. He is so instinctive that once he gets going, he finds more options than anyone else. I have seen guys struggling to bowl at him when he is in full flow. In one day cricket, I still feel that he possesses a lot of quality and ability to set up the game for other batsmen. He can bat till 40-45 over, that is why we back him,” Kohli said during the pre-match presser.
“Jinx (Ajinkya Rahane) is coming back from injury as well. He has just found a rhythm in the one-day warm-up match. KL has been playing well for a while. He is coming with almost a double-hundred in Chennai. So, the guys are in good space. Will have to figure out what fits into our combination, out of these three who are the two likely to start. What I can say is I am happy that all three are in good space now having had some runs behind them. Makes my job easier,” he added.
Looking at stats, it is KL Rahul who should open the innings with Dhawan but reports suggest that it will be Rahane, who will partner Dhawan at the top.
The first ODI will be played on January 15 at Pune. It’ll also be interesting to see at which position Kohli asks Mahendra Singh Dhoni to bat.