A consistent Shikhar Dhawan and a supremely talented KL Rahul will battle it out for the opener’s slot. Even as a top-heavy Indian batting line-up will aim for transformation. Show more intent against a gutsy Bangladesh in the three-match ODI series, starting Sunday. Throw a fabulously consistent young turk Shubman Gill (rested for this series) into the mix. Coach Rahul Dravid will struggle to fit in all the boxes of this jigsaw puzzle called Indian top-order. The focus for the next one year will primarily be on ODIs and just like the T20Is. India’s approach in the 50-over format needs a sea change.
Sometimes having a plethora of options isn’t actually a good headache to have as it creates more confusion among the rank and file of the team. When there are similar skill set options, the coach tries to give everyone equal opportunities. But it results in not having a settled line-up and this is not an ideal situation now. Currently, the Indian white ball squad is now going through that particular phase.
A few years back, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were automatic picks as India’s preferred ODI opening pair with hardly any questions asked or their spots being debated. But Dhawan’s slow approach in the Powerplay overs and the emergence of Gill as a potent 50-over opener is bound to throw up possibilities. KL Rahul, during the last phase of Ravi Shastri’s coaching stint played a few games in the middle-order. But he loves to bat at the top and has had a fair amount of success too.
Ironically, the numbers in the face of it will not give a clear indication as to who should be Rohit’s opening partner for the series. In the 19 ODI innings that Dhawan has opened for India in 2022, he had a poor strike-rate of 75.11. While between 2016-18, it used to be 101 and between 2019-21, it dipped but was still a steady 91. Rahul, who has 5 hundred and 10 fifties in 45 ODIs with strike-rate 85+ and an impressive average of 45.
For the opening match though, in case the team management wants to give rest to a jet-lagged Dhawan, who has flown all the way from Down Under to join the team in Mirpur, Rahul will certainly join Rohit at the top. While Virat Kohli at No. 3 is an automatic choice, Shreyas Iyer as India’s No. 4 is slowly settling down. Rishabh Pant after his heroics in the ODI series in England remains ahead of Ishan Kishan to start as No. 5 in the line-up.