India captain, Rohit Sharma on Sunday, said that Virat Kohli is going to be a back-up opener, while KL Rahul will open with him at the T20 World Cup. He also added that leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi was unfortunate to miss out as he wanted R Ashwin, who provides a different dimension to the team balance.
KL to open
Rohit has backed his deputy, who has copped criticism for his slow scoring in T20s, and said that people often overlook his performance for the team and in the last two three years, he has done exceptionally well.
“KL Rahul will open for us at the T20 World Cup. We are not going to experiment with that position a lot. His performances often go unnoticed. He is a very important player for India,” Rohit told reporters in Mohali ahead of the first T20I.
“If you look at his performances over last two-three years, it has been excellent. I want to make it clear to everyone that we have absolute clarity on this. There is no confusion.”
However, Rohit’s unwavering faith in KL doesn’t match the numbers. In the last 20 matches KL Rahul has played in the last two and a half years, he has scored 547 at a strike rate of 128.40, which has fallen progressively short of his career strike rate of 140.91.
Virat back-up opener
With Kohli scoring a century in the Asia Cup, the debate over who should be Rohit’s opening partner has intensified. But the Indian captain has clarified that Virat Kohli is going to be the third opener.
“It is always nice to have options available for you, especially if you are going into a tournament such as T20 World Cup, you want that flexibility. It’s an option for us, and since we have not taken the third opener, he can obviously open,” Rohit said.
“He opens for his franchise, and he has done really well. It’s a definite option for us.”
Virat Kohli, while opening for India, had recorded his first international hundred in nearly three years against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup.
“I had a word with Rahul Dravid and we have decided that we might have to open with Virat in few matches. We have seen that in the last match and we are happy,” said Rohit.
Ashwin over Bishnoi
Rohit Sharma maintained that he always wanted variety in the attack and never wanted a one-dimensional attack. Ravi Bishnoi missed out to R Ashwin because he wanted an off-spinner in the team and plus, he has also been very impressed with Ashwin’s batting.
“I wanted a left-arm spinner, a leg-spinner and an off-spinner. Bishnoi was very very close, and very unfortunate that he missed out. But I thought having variety in your team is more important than going with the similar option,” said Rohit.
“Yuzvendra Chahal, when in good rhythm, can destroy the opposition. Axar was always part of our plan, we needed an all-round option in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja, he is a big miss for us. It was always going to be between Axar and Jadeja for us, again a three-phase bowler (can bowl in the powerplay, in the middle overs and then in the 17th or 18th overs). We were quite clear that Axar is the guy who can get the job done for us.
“Ravichandran Ashwin, with his new variations, will be good against the right-handers. Also I have been impressed with his batting, and with him in the team, it gives depth to our batting line-up,” he added.