For quite some time, KL Rahul’s tempered-down approach in T20 format has attracted criticism and Kohli’s return to form with his first international century in three years, has only added fuel to fire to the debate on the opening slot.
However, in a media interaction ahead of the three-match T20I series against Australia starting
here on Tuesday, Rohit said that there’s no confusion on the Karnataka right-hander’s role as he is a “very important player for India.”
“I don’t think we are going to experiment. KL Rahul is going to be our opener for sure. His performance for India has always gone unnoticed. One or two bad games don’t overshadow his past records. We know what KL brings to the table, his presence at top is very crucial for us,” he said.
“I want to make it clear to everyone that we have absolute clarity on this and kya khichdi pak rahi hai we know it very well. There is no confusion,” the skipper said. Rohit, however, did not rule out chances of Kohli being promoted to the opener’s role in some of the matches that India played ahead of the T20 World Cup.
The Australia series will be followed by three games against touring South Africa from September 28 to October 4.
“I had a word with Rahul Dravid and we have decided that we might have to open with Virat in a few matches. We have seen that in the last match and we are happy,” said Rohit. “It is always nice to have options available for you, especially if you are going into the tournament, you want that flexibility. It’s an option for us, and since we have not taken the third opener, he can obviously open.”
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Variety in bowling attack
Justifying the selection of star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin over young leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi in the 15-member World Cup squad, Rohit cited that the team management opted for variety instead of fielding a one-dimensional attack.
Ashwin, who featured in the final two matches of the Asia Cup, returned with a couple of scalps.
“We always wanted variety in our attack, never wanted a one-dimensional attack. That is why we have got Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who swings the ball upfront and has got so much quality, and (Jasprit) Bumrah can bowl at any stage of the game. Then Harshal’s (Patel) variations will come in handy in the middle overs, and then Hardik (Pandya) and Arshdeep (Singh),” Rohit said.
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“Then we have three spinners. Someone like leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal in good rhythm can destroy the opposition and then Axar Patel, an all-round option in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja who 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). Ashwin with his new variations will be good against the right-handers. Also his batting can extend our batting to No. 9,” the skipper explained.
Rohit, however, rued the absence of Mohammed Shami in the series against Australia after the seasoned pacer tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday. Shami is part of the reserves for the World Cup. Veteran Umesh Yadav, who last played a T20I in 2019 was drafted into the side in place of Shami, and Rohit feels Umesh was a simple selection considering his rich experience and ability to swing the ball in the powerplay.
“Guys like Umesh, Shami don’t need to be playing a particular format to succeed at it. They have proven themselves. It’s the quality. Young guys need to prove themselves but not them (seniors),” quipped Rohit.