KL Rahul: Opener or a middle-order batter

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Team India will face the Caribbean side for a 3 match ODI series in Ahmedabad followed by a 3 match T20I series in Kolkata. With the ICC WT20 and ODI WC down the line, the series will serve as a massive opportunity for cricketers to seal their spots for the mega tournaments. The Indian cricket team is yet to win a match in 2022 after they were whitewashed in the ODI series against Proteas. For the first time, Rohit Sharma will lead the XI as the full-time ODI skipper as he returns to the squad after recovering from the hamstring injury.

Sharma-Dhawan or Sharma-Rahul ? Big question ahead of the series

The humiliation in the hands of South Africa once again exposed India’s batting woes especially in the middle of an innings. The middle-order lacks experience and has failed to build partnerships at critical junctures of a match. With Sharma coming back in the side, it is expected that he will look to open the batting alongside his long-time partner Shikhar Dhawan.

Dhawan has been under the scanner for his low strike rate in the past but his form in the recently concluded tour of South Africa proved that the seasoned campaigner is still a match-winner for the team. Hence, cricket pundits feel that KL Rahul might be seen batting at No.4 and 5, providing more depth to the batting line-up.

“The first thing they need to decide ” Here’s what Agarkar feels about Rahul

Rahul has mostly played as an opener in international cricket but has also enough of experience batting down the order. Rahul is probably at his prime as he looks unstoppable with the bat in every single fixture. Former veteran Indian seamer Ajit Agarkar expressed his views on where the team really needs a batter-like KL Rahul to bat,

“I think that’s the first thing they need to decide, whether he is an opener or a middle-order batsman because he was the captain in South Africa and he opened, which to me it was a bit disappointing because he’s been so successful at number 4 or 5 and that’s the role that they were looking at.If that is not going to be the case then again you have got to stick to what you decide if you are going to be an opener then you may as well open the innings with Rohit in the series. So, that will be interesting to see because Shikhar Dhawan is there as well, I am not sure in a year or year and a half’s time where Shikhar Dhawan would be, even though he has got runs in South Africa,”

Agarkar also added that Dravid and Co. might also try out more explosive options at the top of the order in the form of Kishan and Pant in the shorter formats of the game. The presence of players like Kohli and KL Rahul thus ensures that they can play the role of an anchor as well that of an aggressor as per the situation of the game.

“You have got a couple of explosive players like Ishan Kishan or even someone like Rishabh Pant. Who knows whether it will work giving him a chance for the top of the order,”

Kuldeep Yadav back in the squad , Ashwin axed

Team India is also in search of a spinner who can consistently pick wickets, especially in the middle orders. KL Rahul went ahead with the combination of Ashwin and Chahal in the SA series. The duo however failed to meet the expectations despite the conditions favoring them. The selection committee recalled chinaman Kuldeep Yadav back in the squad for the series against West Indies. Young leg-spin sensation Ravi Bishnoi also earned a call for the series for his stellar performances in the domestic circuit and IPL.

Former opener and cricket expert Aakash Chopra spoke in detail about the big selection decisions made for the upcoming home series.

“They should be otherwise they wouldn’t have picked Kuldeep Yadav, he was on hold for the last, not last 6 months he’s been in hold forever since that Birmingham game, where he’s got turned around and then he never got an opportunity. They have got him back for a simple reason, that is they are not picking up wickets in the middle overs. Ashwin whether he was available or not, I would’ve anyway gone with Kuldeep Yadav but we also picked Ravi Bishnoi. We picked him for both ODI and T20 and since they don’t want to try him then there is Washington Sundar as well and Jadeja and Axar Patel are actually waiting in the wing. So, once you pick so many bowlers then your hands are tied pretty much, who do you go with?”

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