The Indian cricket team will return to the cricket field next week after a long gap of almost nine months. To begin the Australian tour, Virat Kohli’s men will square off against the hosts in a high-profile ODI series. Unfortunately, the Men in Blue will not have the services of their match-winning opener Rohit Sharma.
The Mumbai Indians skipper is currently nursing an injury. The BCCI has asked him to rest and not named in the limited-overs series. Wicket-keeper batsman KL Rahul will play the vice-captain’s role in Rohit Sharma’s absence. However, the most important question is which player would replace him as an opener.
Rohit Sharma has done a phenomenal job as an opening batsman in white-ball cricket. He played a crucial role in the team’s home ODI series win over Australia earlier this year, while he formed a fantastic opening combination with KL Rahul in the T20I series against New Zealand. The Kiwis whitewashed the Men in Blue in the subsequent ODI series. Notably, the Hitman did not feature in those three games. Thus, replacing Rohit Sharma as India’s opener will be a hard job.
Here are the five players who could possibly replace him at the top of the order:
1. Virat Kohli
Starting with a surprising name on the list, captain Virat Kohli could open the innings in the limited-overs series. The right-handed batsman recently opened for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Eliminator match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Kohli often scores big when he gets a chance to open the innings in T20s.
The Delhi-based player has registered all of his five IPL tons while opening the innings. Talking about his numbers as an opener in IPL, Kohli has scored 2345 runs in 61 innings at a magnificent average of 47.86. His strike rate of 140.17 as an opening batsman is much better than his career strike rate.
Virat has also opened the innings for India 13 times in white-ball cricket. He has amassed 198 runs in 7 T20I innings, while in the 6 ODI innings he opened, Kohli managed 161 runs at an average of 26.83.
2. Sanju Samson
Wicket-keeper batsman Sanju Samson was at his destructive best in IPL 2020. Although the Rajasthan Royals finished last on the points table, Samson impressed everyone with his clean-hitting. He played a couple of game-changing knocks for his team, and batting in the powerplay overs will only help the Kerala-based player.
Samson is yet to make his ODI debut. He has played four T20Is but has always lost his wicket early. The Australian tour will provide him a platform to prove himself at the international level.
A decent performance against Australia could make him the number one candidate to don the gloves for India in the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup. The 26-year-old has opened the innings 24 times in the IPL. He has scored 559 runs at an average of 23.29. His highest score of 74 highlights that he can score big as an opener.
3. Shubman Gill
Former India U19 opener Shubman Gill has played only two international matches in his career so far. The right-handed batsman earned his maiden ODI cap against New Zealand in 2019. Unfortunately, he struggled to get going in the pace-friendly conditions as Gill could score only 16 runs at a strike rate of 50.
A magnificent performance for the Kolkata Knight Riders has earned Gill another chance in the Indian squad. The Punjab-based cricketer opened the innings for the 2-time IPL winners in the UAE. He was their most consistent batsman, scoring 440 runs in 14 innings at an average of 33.85.
Shubman smacked three half-centuries this season for the Shahrukh Khan-owned franchise. He has majorly played as an opener for them and done well at that position. He will likely make his return to the Indian ODI team during the Australia limited-overs series.
4. Mayank Agarwal
As mentioned ahead, Rohit Sharma missed the ODI series against New Zealand earlier in 2020. In his absence, Mayank Agarwal opened the innings for the Men in Blue. Agarwal did not have a memorable ODI debut as he ended the series with mere 36 runs to his name.
The right-handed batsman impressed the fans with his IPL 2020 performance. He played a significant role in the little success that the Kings XI Punjab achieved this year. Agarwal registered his maiden IPL ton against the Rajasthan Royals.
Since he has done incredibly well for Karnataka in the domestic circuit, Agarwal will most probably be the team’s first-choice replacement for Rohit Sharma. The former Rising Pune Supergiant has sealed his spot as a Test opener, and a consistent performance in the limited-overs series versus the Aussies could help him secure his place in the other formats as well.
5. KL Rahul
IPL 2020 Orange Cap winner KL Rahul is the number one contender to open the innings for the Indian cricket team in all six limited-overs matches. The Kings XI Punjab skipper had his best IPL season in the United Arab Emirates. The wicket-keeper batsman was in the form of his life during the New Zealand tour earlier this year.
Captain Virat Kohli used him in the middle-order during the ODI series. However, it is unlikely that Rahul would bat in the middle-order again after his exploits in IPL 13. In case Rohit Sharma would have been available, the team management might have considered using him at number four or number five.
However, since he Hitman is unavailable, Rahul will not only play the vice-captain’s role but he may open the innings for India as well. A strong performance from the right-handed batsman could give the selectors a good headache before the team’s next ODI series.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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