Vikram Rathour: To pick Rohit Sharma's partner from KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan is a good selection headache
it would be ideal to continue with the seasoned opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan that also provides the team with left-right combination.
Not long ago, the No. 4 batting slot in one-day internationals was the subject of big debate in Indian cricket. While it has eased to an extent with Shreyas Iyer consolidating that position, another debate is on the rise regarding the opening slot.
With KL Rahul hitting the right notes in Shikhar Dhawan's absence due to an injury, the southpaw's swift return during the Sri Lanka T20Is and Rohit Sharma's return after being rested for the last series, the Indian team management are faced with one of the toughest choices to make as far as opening combination is concerned.
It would be ideal to continue with the seasoned opening pair of Rohit and Dhawan that also provides the team with left-right combination. At the same time, it would be tough to keep in-form Rahul out of the XI.
However, batting coach Vikram Rathour does not see an issue if Dhawan or Rahul sits out for the first ODI against Australia at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.
"I don't see an issue and one of them will have to sit out," Rathour said on Sunday before the team's optional training session. Rohit and Rahul batted for almost two hours in the nets while Dhawan opted to stay back at the hotel.
Rohit took a knock on his fingers during practice but there was nothing to worry as he continued to bat in the nets.
Rathour indicated that the opening slot is a good headache to have. "Rohit is an obvious choice, of course. Both [Shikhar and Rahul] are playing well. Shikhar has done well in one-dayers, Rahul is in great form [too]. So, we will deal with it when we have to. There are still a couple of days to go. The management will sit down and make a choice," said Rathour.
For a team like India that relies heavily on its top order to fire, the opening combination is crucial. While Rohit and Dhawan are proven performers, Rohit and Rahul are still to find perfection especially where running between wickets is concerned.
Another thought the team management would deliberate on is how to fit Rahul, who batted like a breeze in the nets on Sunday, in their XI? When mid-day asked Rathour whether there is a chance of using Rahul as a wicketkeeper-batsman in case they go with Shikhar and Rohit, the batting coach said: "We haven't really started thinking on those lines yet. Rahul can keep, that's a skill that he has, so that will depend if the team management feels at any stage we require that," he said.
With fierce competition for places and the team management hinting at looking to use Rahul as a wicketkeeping option, the pressure on Rishabh Pant to justify his selection has only increased. In such a scenario, the three ODIs v Australia are crucial for Pant. "He's a good player. Everybody agrees on that. He's working hard on his fitness. He has played some useful innings lately. He's practising hard, so hoping he comes good [and] becomes more consistent," said Rathour.
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