The debate around KL Rahul’s selection in the playing XI is set to return as soon as Hardik Pandya, the stand-in captain for the first ODI vs Australia, reveals which team India are going to field in Mumbai on March 17. If it is Rahul, one imagines more twitter threads being done to thrash the batter. Ishan Kishan challenges Rahul for a spot in the ODI XI. Not to forget, he is a double-century maker, who did not get a consistent run after that epic knock vs Bangladesh last year. Ishan was made to sit vs Sri Lanka at home during ODIs but got a chance to play vs New Zealand in January where he did not bring fruitful returns. On the other hand, Rahul played a match-winning knock of unbeaten 64 vs Sri Lanka in the 2nd ODI. But there is one more fact: Rahul has not scored a ODI ton since March 2021.
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With Rohit missing the first ODI, expect Ishan to open the innings with Shubman Gill in Mumbai. But what happens when Rohit returns for the 2nd and 3rd ODIs? Will Kishan drop down to number 5 in the batting lineup? Or will Rahul continue to play on that position.
India playing 11 for 1st ODI vs Australia may look like this: Ishan, Gill, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav/Yuzvendra Chahal, Umran Malik, Mohammed Shami/Siraj
24-year-old Ishan Kishan is in good company.
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When Rohit returns, he will take the top slot. It will then be a choice between Ishan and Rahul. It all comes down to what Rohit and Dravid want from a wicketkeeper and batter in the team. If they think, they need their wicketkeeper and batter to play the role of a floater, that is come up the batting order if the first wicket falls quickly, then Ishan is the right choice as he can score at a better strike rate. But if they want the wicketkeeper/batter to play the role of a finisher, Rahul is the right man for the job. Knowing how Rahul finished the match vs Sri Lanka recently, he may get to do the glovework. However, things might change drastically if he has a poor first game and Ishan has a brilliant one.
Let’s see which combination suits India the best as they keep one eye on the ODI World Cup squad.