‍After facing some criticism for the lack of consistency in their line-up, India has announced that KL Rahul will open in their upcoming World Cup matches. The captaincy of Rohit Sharma and the absence of the left-hand batsman have been two constant question marks for the team since they became ODI specialists. 

After being restricted to just a handful of pre-series games in ODIs and Test matches, it appears that MS Dhoni has taken note and made some adjustments. In addition, after dropping Virat Kohli from first-class cricket for almost six months, the skipper himself opened with a fifty against Australia A on Tuesday. 

The former Indian vice-captain was limited to just one innings during his comeback match due to a lower back strain. It remains to be seen whether he’ll continue to open or not but this is certainly an encouraging sign ahead of the World Cup.

 

KL Rahul will open in World Cup

This is the first hint that India are indeed planning to use the World Cup as a test bed for young talent. Rahul, who was recently elevated to the No. 3 position, was an attractive option for the team due to his ability to open the innings in the shorter format. Incidentally, he was also a part of India’s World Cup squad in 2015. 

In the end, he didn’t get a game but his performances against Zimbabwe and West Indies were encouraging. It remains to be seen whether he’ll continue to open or not. In the recent past, Cheteshwar Pujara in ODIs has been a prolific opener but the team often subverts the role if KL Rahul is fit and available.

 

MS Dhoni will open in World Cup

This news is more of a surprise than anything else. Dhoni has been a prolific opener in his entire career but he hasn’t give the chance in the last World Cup as well. The former captain has slowly been coming back into action and now that he’s not hosting the Champions Trophy, his chances of playing in the World Cup are better. 

However, it remains to see how the team copes in the opening position. For example, there was an instance in the recent Australia A game when KL Rahul himself batted at No. 3 and then No. 4. It remains to see whether the team tries to balance the top order with Dhoni opening or not. However, the good thing is that he’s experience, and can be a utility player for the team.

 

Kohli will open in Test matches

Rohit was rest for the two T20s against Australia and then he didn’t open the innings. It’s a bit of a surprise that Virat Kohli has prefer over players such as Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma. While Dhawan has not been able to score runs consistently in the last year or so, Rohit is one of the best Indian openers in ODIs. 

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The team has often tried different combinations in the past but the results have always been inconsistent. Kohli has been among the best batsmen in the world over the last few years and he’s a natural opener. However, there are many who question his ability to play limited overs cricket, and for the team that could mean a big problem.

 

Rohit Sharma will open in ODIs

After facing some criticism for dropping KL Rahul from the side, Dhoni and Co. have made a change. Rohit Sharma has been a successful opener in his career and the team is likely to continue with him in the longer format as well. Sharma had a poor series against Australia A and he was only able to score 49 runs in three innings. 

However, he’s a fit and experienced player and can be a utility player for the team. Sharma, apart from being an effective opener, has also been an effective No. 6 and No. 7 in the past. He’s a smart player and can also be a useful asset for the team.

 

India’s World Cup squad

The team’s World Cup campaign could begin as soon as the last week of May as they have so many matches in that period. While India hasn’t decided on their World Cup squad yet, there are a few players who have been consistently scoring runs regardless of which team they’ve been playing for. The likes of Rohit, Shikhar, and Vijay are certainties in the squad and among the rest, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Siraj, and Krunal Pandya have all been impressive in the last year or so. For this side, the World Cup is a golden opportunity to prove that they are genuine contenders for the title. It will be interesting to see how the team copes with the pressure and the expectations that come with being the defending champions.

 

Other notable names on the radar

Apart from the aforementioned five players, Bumrah, Pandya, Siraj, and Krunal, India will be keeping tabs on players such as Rishabh Pant, Khaleel Ahmed, Manish Pandey, Mayank Agarwal, and Axar Patel. There have been a few instances in the recent past when selectors have included players who have barely played a first-class match in the last 12 months. It’s usually a sign that the team management is looking for someone to fill a specific role on the side. 

The World Cup is the perfect opportunity for such players to prove their worth. The World Cup is also a chance for the selectors to give some much-needed rest to senior players. With the Champions Trophy just around the corner, the team management could temp to field a strong side for the World Cup but that’s a sacrifice that they should be willing to make.

 

Key points to take away

With only about two months left for the World Cup, the team management would be keen to finalize their squad and have a game plan in place. The team hasn’t play a single World Cup match in this format but with the tournament hold in India, they will face a lot of expectations. 

The World Cup is a challenging format and a lot can happen during a tournament of this kind. The team would want to be amongst the favorites but that’s not going to be easy. The World Cup is definitely a challenging format and the team needs to prepare for the challenge that comes with it. The World Cup starts in a few months and it’s high time that the team forges a game plan for the tournament.