Rahane all set to open for India

In Dhawan’s absence, Rahane all set to open the innings for Team India; KL Rahul to remain at No. 4.

Indian cricketer Ajinkya Rahane is all padded up for a practice session at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Friday.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

The Indian cricketers reached the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium for a practice session on Friday afternoon. While his other team-mates were still warming up for the session, Ajinkya Rahane had already reached the batting arena, all padded up and eager to get as many balls in.

Rahane fine-tuned his batting against Hardik Pandya, under the watchful eyes of chief coach Ravi Shastri.

And if all goes well, the Mumbai batsman may open for India in the first ODI in Chennai.

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Ever since Dhawan was released for the first three ODIs to be with his ailing wife, there were speculations that either Rahane or K.L. Rahul would be promoted up the order, to bat alongside Rohit Sharma.

But the team’s vice-captain, Sharma, indicated that Rahane will be preferred as the opener while Rahul will remain at No. 4.

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“Ajinkya has opened in the West Indies. I guess that could be the option. Having said that, when you have versatility in your team, it gives captain and coach a little bit of relief that these guys can take up any position they are offered. Whenever they have an opportunity to bat wherever, they will be happy to do it,” Sharma said.

Sharma also made it clear that Rahul will stick to the lower-order, like he did in Sri Lanka. “I think both coach and captain have clearly spoken about roles each individual has to play (in the team). Before the start of Sri Lanka tour, the captain said he is looking at KL as a No. 4 batsman… You will have to play according to the team dynamics, whatever the team requires,” Sharma said.

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It is for the same reason that Rohit Sharma moved from the middle-order to the opening slot. “I’m sure no batsman will come into the fray thinking he is specialist opening batsman and needs to open the innings. We are all here thinking wherever the team wants us to play we should do the job,” he said.

Sharma said the team would miss the services of Dhawan as he had been in terrific form. “Of course, the absence of Shikhar will be missed, especially after the kind of form he was in off late. The achievement we have had in the last few series, he has had a big role to play in it. Right from Champions Trophy till the last tour to Sri Lanka, he has given impactful performances for the team. Yes, his absence will be felt. But, we have got a few guys who can replace him,” he said.

“Ajinkya had a great series in the West Indies where he was the man of the series. We have got a very good bench strength. There are guys who can come and take the position anytime. That’s why we have the (rotation) policy going on. Shikhar’s absence will be felt but we have got guys who can take on the role and perform well.”