Cricket

Kohli says Rahane is team’s third opener

Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane (right). File photo

Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane (right). File photo  

Rahane had opened during the series against Australia in Dhawan’s absence

Most batsmen with a string of four fifties in as many ODIs will be a certainty in their respective teams. But not Ajinkya Rahane. Despite a sterling show as Shikhar Dhawan’s replacement during the Australia series, the Mumbai batsman will have to cool his heels.

With Rahane’s impressive form, his record at No. 4 being better than his overall record and India’s struggle for a reliable No. 4, there may well have been a case for Rahane being switched to the middle-order.

Captain Virat Kohli, however, clarified that Rahane, who incidentally scored a 58-ball 87 at No. 4 during India’s last ODI at Wankhede two years ago, will have to wait for his chance at the top. 

“He (Rahane) has definitely grabbed his opportunities as the third opener. As I mentioned, there was K.L. as well competing for the spot for a while, but Jinks (Rahane) has really performed well, stood up and taken his chances. 

Team dynamics

“That’s how the dynamics of the team work; where there are four guys who play in a similar position, obviously one of them will have to miss out,” Kohli said on the eve of the series-opener against New Zealand. 

“Even in the three, only two can play in the eleven. Again as I mentioned, I don’t want to confuse him too much making him play in the middle-order. You need to find your game in ODI cricket. 

“ He’s been very solid at the top order because of his technique and he likes playing there as well. It gives him the freedom to go after the bowlers. We don’t want to confuse him. Whenever someone is not going through a good phase or there is an injury, he’s there. He’s pretty happy with his batting at the moment.”

With the spin trio of Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel grabbing its opportunities with the white ball, the door seems to be virtually shut on R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, India’s premier spin bowlers, for the remaining limited-over home season. Kohli hinted that Ashwin and Jadeja could well be preferred for Tests for the next few series.

“It’s been a combination of both, giving guys the chances and understanding the workloads of players who have played for a while. Ashwin and Jadeja have played for (the) last six-seven years limited-over cricket for us regularly. These youngsters have stepped up, it creates a strong pool for us before the World Cup,” Kohli said. 

“Contrary to a lot of things being said, we understand how the dynamics of this team work best. That is something very hard to explain. People only count results. Right now, we are getting them and we are very happy.”

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 10:01:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/kohli-says-rahane-is-teams-third-opener/article19896221.ece

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