After Rohit Sharma’s departure from the One-Day International (ODI) squad due to a calf injury, India have announced Mayank Agarwal as his replacement. Not so long ago, youngster Prithvi Shaw was also included in the ODI squad after he replaced left-handed batsman Shikhar Dhawan.
Now both Shaw and Agarwal will open the innings against New Zealand in the first match on Wednesday (Feb 05) at Seddon Park in Hamilton, after Virat Kohli confirmed that Rahul would bat in the middle-order.
Rahul has been incredible in the past few months and enjoying the purple patch. The Karnataka-born is handling the new role of wicket-keeper pretty well over the last two series.
The Indian skipper had said before the start of the New Zealand tour that the team management was looking forward to try Rahul down the order in the 50-over format.
“We are looking to stick to the same plan. KL will bat in the middle-order. We want him to get accustomed to that role and keep as well,” Kohli said at his pre-match press conference as quoted by Cricbuzz.
Kohli expressed that Rohit is their go-to man in any format of the game, and since there are not many ODI games, it’s an ideal time for Rohit to recover from the injury.
“We understand it’s an unfortunate situation that Rohit can’t be a part of this series. When you talk about one-day cricket and T20 cricket and Test cricket now, he’s one guy who’s always on the list first. The impact he’s had is there for everyone to see. But the thing is that we don’t have any one-day tournaments to look forward to. It’s, if, anything an ideal time for him to go away and rectify this as soon as he can and come back.”
“He played the T20I series, so from the team’s balance point of view heading into the World Cup year, it doesn’t really hamper the combination as far as the T20s are concerned. And in one-day cricket, whoever steps in for him. Prithvi’s definitely going to start, and whoever the replacement – Agarwal – is, we’ll ask for an opener,” added Kohli.
Kohli also revealed that the New Zealand series is not being taken as the preparations for the T20 World Cup scheduled to take place in Australia later this year. He referred to the Indian Premier League (IPL) and regarded it as the most competitive tournament. The 31-year-old mentioned to play according to the pace of different formats.
“We have had five T20s already, it’s not that we don’t have a lot fo T20 cricket. We have IPL as well, which is going to be a month and a half of T20 cricket. So we will probably utilize that, I think because last year you did not have much opportunity to prepare yourselves apart from the games that were in front of you, but T20s are very different, as I said. IPL is probably the most competitive tournament you can ask for as a collective, and guys will look to get into that frame of mind in that tournament and not this early in a 50-over format because you don’t want to play in a different manner.”
“You have to respect the format, you have to play according to the pace of the 50-over game and as I spoke of the combination as well, someone like Rahul playing in the middle order, it’s about guys getting settled in their roles and repeating that game after game so that they know I played this in this format, I have to play this in T20s or similarly in Test cricket. These things are all about creating good habits for different formats and then being able to switch between them. So no, we are not looking at this series as preparation for T20 World Cup. IPL is going to be the right platform for that,” Kohli added further.
The Delhi-born cricketer regarded fielding as one of the critical aspects for any player to get better of the opposition. He rated fielding is equally crucial along with batting and bowling.
“We certainly expect a bunch of young guys who are good fielders to do the job collectively, not just focus on batting or bowling. It’s about taking all three skills seriously and committing to all three completely,” Kohli signed off.