Opener Shikhar Dhawan has offered to change his batting position for the team and has said that he is ready to bat at number three if the team management asks him to do so. Since Team India played three openers in the opening ODI against Australia, KL Rahul was demoted in the batting order. Rohit Sharma and Dhawan have been opening the innings in white-ball cricket since 2013 and Rahul coming to bat at number three wasn’t a big surprise.
Despite getting good starts, both Rahul and Dhawan failed to provide acceleration in the middle-order, inviting criticism from all corners. Virat Kohli will likely return to bat at number three, which means one of either of Rahul and Dhawan will be dropped from playing XI or in the batting order.
If both the openers keep their place in the playing XI, one of them will have to face demotion. “If they ask me to bat at No.3, of course I’ll do it. Anything for my country, for sure. You have to be mentally strong, all the boys are mentally strong, that’s why they’ve been playing international cricket and it’s part of the journey, sometimes you’ve to switch numbers as well,” Dhawan said after the first ODI.
It is unlikely that team management will demote Dhawan as he has never batted in the middle-order at the international level. On the other hand, Rahul did well in the matches where he batted at number four in World Cup 2019.
He is expected to come out to bat after Kohli in the second ODI in Rajkot but this also means a demotion for Shreyas Iyer, who was tipped to be team India’s next number four batsman.
Rahul’s white-ball form has created selection headache for the team management and it remains to be seen if the coaching staff takes a tough call by dropping one of the openers.
The second ODI of the series takes place on Friday. Australia, who chased down 256 without losing a single wicket in Mumbai, are leading the series 1-0.