Rahane the top pick
Sharma says Mumbai batsman likely to open in Dhawan’s absence
India opening batsman Rohit Sharma said Ajinkya Rahane is the most likely candidate to open the innings alongside him after regular top-order batsman Shikhar Dhawan opted out of the first three ODIs against Australia.
India and Australia play a fivematch series, with the first game starting in Chennai tomorrow, and Sharma said his fellow Mumbai batsman should walk out with him.
“We have great bench strength. Of course, the absence of Shikhar will be felt. The kind of form he was in of late, he had a big role to play in the team’s recent achievements. Right from the Champions Trophy to the last tour of Sri Lanka, he has had impactful performances for the team. But, we have got a few guys to replace him,” Sharma said yesterday.
“Ajinkya (Rahane) is one of them. He had a great run in the West Indies and won the man of the series award. He can come and take up that role anytime. We have got guys who can take on the role and perform well,” he added.
Sharma said that while Dhawan is the regular opener, he won’t need to adjust his game for a comparatively new partner.
He said: “The partner doesn’t matter, to be honest. It’s what the conditions have to offer, what sort of pitch you are playing in. At the end of the day you have to give your team a good start. If I see someone struggling at the other end, I will have to take up the role and if they see I’m struggling, they’ll take up that role.
“I think both the coach and captain have clearly spoken about roles each individual had to play. Before the start of Sri Lanka our, the captain said he is looking at KL (Rahul) as a number four batsman.
“Ajinkya (Rahane) opened in the West Indies. I guess that could be the option. Having said that, when you have this kind of versatility in the team, it gives the captain and coach a little bit of relief that these guys can take up any position they are offered.”
One of the major talking points before the start of the series has been on-field behaviour, with both teams engaging in an intense verbal battle earlier in the year during the Test series. Sharma stated it’s important for both sides to uphold the spirit of the game.
He said: “Australia is a very strong opposition and it makes me feel good. We have to see once the tournament starts. We have to play in the spirit of the game. Both teams are aggressive in nature. There has to be a line which needs to be drawn. We all know as professional cricketers we shouldn’t cross limits.”
Smooth transition: Sharma (l) said the fluid roles of batsmen in the Indian team made it easier to adjust to changes in batting positions.