Former India batsman VVS Laxman has picked Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul as the opening pair for the upcoming T20I series against England, commencing from Friday. According to Laxman, Shikhar Dhawan — despite being in great touch — can be used as a backup opener keeping in mind this year’s T20 World Cup in India. In the absence of Rohit in the T20I and ODI series against Australia last year, Dhawan and Rahul had opened the innings for India. But now with the return of Rohit, Dhawan might have to wait his chance.
Speaking on Star Sports show “Cricket Connected,” Laxman said, “It will be a tough question, as far as the selection of the second opener is concerned. There’s no doubt about that because Rohit Sharma is an automatic choice in white-ball cricket.
“I will still go with KL Rahul because over the last few months and years I think the Indian team management went with KL Rahul as an opening batsman and he has done really well in that position.
“Yes, Shikhar Dhawan had a fantastic IPL, the way he batted at the top of the order, scoring centuries for Delhi Capitals and then he’s in tremendous form for Delhi in the Vijay Hazare (Trophy), where he scored a big 100 in that tournament as well.
“With KL Rahul as an opening combination, you want someone who’s second. Keeping in mind the T20 World Cup, you have to identify who your openers are going to be there in the World Cup and back them; don’t chop and change.
“You have someone as experienced as Shikhar Dhawan, who can be the backup opener in case one of these openers Rohit Sharma/KL Rahul gets injured or lose their form,” he added.
The five-match T20I series will also mark the return of pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar after spending quite some time on the sidelines due to an injury he sustained in the 2020 edition of the IPL. The seamer last played for India in December 2019.
Laxman expressed his delight on Bhuvneshwar’s recovery and said the medium-pacer will play an important role in the upcoming World T20.
“There’s a lot of depth in the Indian pace department – we saw this even in the Test matches in Australia,” Laxman said.
“I still feel great and happy that Bhuvneshwar has regained fitness because he’s such an important bowler, especially in white-ball cricket for India, because apart from Jasprit Bumrah, if there’s anyone in that Indian bowling line-up who has got the experience of bowling not only with the new ball but also at the death, it is him,” he pointed out.
Laxman further added that Bhuvaneshwar might need some rest in the series and could play three of the five games. “For him to be 100 per cent fit, I think a lot of priority and prominence has to be given to manage the workload and the injury of Bhuvneshwar,” Laxman said.
“I hope that he doesn’t play all five matches. I think he can be rested in between – probably three matches out of the five matches is what I see or expect Bhuvneshwar to play.
“He is such an important member, we have to look after Bhuvneshwar the fast bowler, because he will be playing a very important role come November, when the World Cup will happen,” he added.
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