Indian captain Virat Kohli has confirmed that Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul will open the innings in the T20I series against England, which starts on Friday.
The KL Rahul vs Shikhar Dhawan debate was the major talking point ahead of the first T20I. With the five-match series being seen as a build-up to the T20 World Cup later this year, both India and England will be keen to get their combinations in order.
Speaking at a virtual press conference ahead of the first T20I in Ahmedabad, the Indian captain put an end to the opening debate. Asked if both KL Rahul and Dhawan could fit into the playing XI, Kohli stated:
“I don’t think so (both KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan can play together).”
Elaborating further, Kohli said that KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma are the first-choice openers. He said in this regard:
“KL and Rohit have been consistently performing at the top of the order for us, and those two will start. If Rohit takes rest, or KL has a niggle or something, then Shikhi (Shikhar Dhawan) obviously comes back. He comes in as the third opener. But the starting composition, Rohit and Rahul will be the ones who will start.”
Why KL Rahul has the edge over Shikhar Dhawan
KL Rahul has an excellent T20I record. In 45 matches, the 28-year-old has scored 1542 runs at an average of 44.05 and a strike-rate of 144.92. Apart from 12 fifties, he also has two centuries to his name.
In comparison, Dhawan hasn’t been quite as successful in T20Is. In 64 games, the left-hander has 1669 runs to his name, averaging 28.28 with a strike-rate of 128.28. Moreover, despite being an opener, Shikhar Dhawan is yet to register a hundred in the shortest form of the game.
Former India batsman VVS Laxman too has opined that KL Rahul should be the preferred opening partner for Rohit Sharma. In an episode of Star Sports’ show Cricket Connected, Laxman provided his take on the KL Rahul vs Shikhar Dhawan debate, saying in this regard:
“It is going to be a tough question as far as the selection of the second opener is concerned; there is no doubt about that because Rohit Sharma is an automatic choice in white-ball cricket. But I will still go with KL Rahul because over the last few months and years, I think the Indian team management went with KL Rahul as an opening batsman, and he has done really well in that position.”
Although Rishabh Pant is back in the T20I squad, KL Rahul can also keep wickets, if needed.