Indian skipper Virat Kohli stated that K.L. Rahul and Rohit Sharma form the first-choice opening pair, with Shikhar Dhawan acting as the back up.

“The starting combination will be Rohit and Rahul. They have been consistently performing at the top. In a situation where Rohit takes rest, or Rahul has a niggle, Shikhar will come in as the third opener,” Kohli said in a media interaction on Thursday.

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On spinner Varun Chakravarthy, who has reportedly been ruled out of the T20 series after failing the fitness test, Kohli said, “Individuals have to understand and appreciate the system created for the Indian cricket team. We should try and operate at very high levels of fitness and skill. There is a reason why this is the top of the ladder when it comes to playing cricket. You expect players to abide by what is required to be a part of Team India. There should not be any compromise in that regard.”

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With the addition of newcomers like Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav, Kohli believes that the issue of inadequate batting depth has been addressed. “The kind of players we have added to the squad gives the batting more depth. We have explosive batsmen in the team now, who can change the game even if we are two or three wickets down. This time around, you will see guys play more freely, and not be worried if we have enough batsmen to take care of things if we lose a couple of wickets. This was the case before. We couldn’t play freely for the first 10-12 overs,” Kohli said.

Asked if in-form offie R. Ashwin can find a spot in the T20I squad, Kohli said, “Washington (Sundar) has been doing very well for us. You cannot have two players of the same discipline playing in the same spot.”