Rohit, Dhawan best opening combination for T20 World Cup - Sarandeep Singh

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan should remain India’s first-choice openers for the T20 World Cup, says former India spinner and selector Sarandeep Singh.

Shikhar Dhawan (left) and Rohit Sharma during the third ODI between India and England in Pune on Sunday.   -  AP

India should stick to its experienced opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan for the T20 World Cup, according to former India spinner and selector Sarandeep Singh.

Sarandeep also feels Virat Kohli should remain as India’s captain for all three formats of the game.

With Kohli having opened the batting alongside Rohit in the final T20I against England and stating he would open in the IPL as well, a change at the top of the order is thought of as a possibility for the T20 World Cup. Moreover, Dhawan was dropped after the opening game of the series and Ishan Kishan was picked ahead of him in one of the games.

‘Surprising’

But Sarandeep said a change wasn’t needed.

“It was surprising. He (Dhawan) did well in the IPL, he did well in Australia. Whenever he plays he performs. He is mentally very strong. Maybe they want to try out options but in my view the left-hand right-hand combination of Rohit and Dhawan is the best option for the India at World Cup,” Sarandeep told PTI.

“You can’t judge him on the basis of one match. He did well in ODIs after that. The IPL will decide a lot of the team. There are no easy places in the team. Ishan Kishan, too, will need to do exceptionally well to make the team,” he added.

Sarandeep also said K. L. Rahul should continue to keep wickets in the ODIs and that the in-form Rishabh Pant would have to wait for his turn when Shreyas Iyer returns.

The upcoming 14th edition of the IPL will decide the bulk of the spots for the World Cup, and Sarandeep feels Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav are no more sure starters in the T20 and ODI formats. Kuldeep lost his place in the T20 squad for the recent series against England.

ALSO READ - Current Indian team best in history - Gavaskar

“The two spinners can still do the job. They are proper spinners. Once Ravindra Jadeja is back from injury, the trio remains the best option in limited-overs format,” Sarandeep said.

“Kuldeep, for example, has not got a lot of opportunities and seems down on confidence. He needs to be backed. Chahal was also replaced in the recent T20s against England by Rahul Chahar and did not play the following ODIs. Though there is a lot of competition, Chahal and Kuldeep should play together. They have still have a lot of potential,” said Sarandeep.

‘No praise enough for Pant’

Pant is now the No. 1 wicketkeeper in Tests and is also the preferred option in T20s following his stellar success in all three formats in the last four months. “No praise will be enough for Pant. He had some fitness issues, worked on that and worked on his shot selection. If you expect a 21-year-old to play like a 30-year-old, it is tough to start with. You see Hardik (Pandya), the way he bats now with experience, same thing has been seen in Pant now in the last six months or so.

“He was out of the team which was good for him. There is a right time and right ball to hit. The way he played in Australia, it shows he has gained a lot of experience. He is picking and choosing. He can give you 10 years in Test cricket, Saha cannot and has become the No. 1 choice. In ODIs, Shreyas got injured so Rishabh played. When he is back, K. L. should be the wicketkeeper because he has been keeping wickets for a long time and is doing a fine job.”

ALSO READ - Rishabh Pant earns praise from Ian Bell

Sarandeep also believes there is no place for Krunal Pandya in the ODI team even if Hardik cannot bowl.

“If we talk about ODIs, if Hardik is not bowling, Krunal can't be your fifth bowler. He batted beautifully but Krunal can't give you 10 overs, he is a good T20 player but when it comes to ODIs, he doesn't have the skill to challenge the batsmen. So, if Krunal plays, Hardik needs to bowl. If one bowler is hit or injured there is no extra option if Hardik doesn't bowl. His workload has to be managed too but you have to play proper bowlers,” Sarandeep said.

On the issue of spilt captaincy, Sarandeep said it was not even discussed in his tenure.

“Spilt captaincy is needed when your captain is not performing but he (Kohli) is the only player to average more than 50 in all formats. If he isn't performing in one format you can take the leadership pressure off him and give it to someone else. Just because he has not won an IPL you can't remove him from India captaincy. He is also the fittest player and captain. Rohit is there to lead the side in his absence but there is no reason to replace Virat.”