Paarl: Stand-in skipper KL Rahul on Tuesday confirmed that he will open the batting for India in the three-match ODI series against South Africa, starting here on Wednesday, in the absence of Rohit Sharma.
The 29-year old has batted for India in a number of different positions in the middle order with Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan opening the batting in the 50-over format. However, he has replaced Dhawan as India’s regular opener in T20Is with the latter not being selected in the team for the shortest format of the game.
“The last 14-15 months I have batted at 4, 5, different positions, where the team needed me. With Rohit not being here, I will bat at the top,” said Rahul in a pre-match virtual press conference.
“I’m not someone who has a lot of plans and targets. I like to take one game at a time. That’s how I’ve played my cricket and that’s how I’ll look to lead the team,” he added.
With Rahul opening the batting, it will be interesting to see whether India will go for Dhawan or Ruturaj Gaikwad as KL’s opening partner in the series.
The star batter, who will also captain the side in the absence of white-ball skipper Rohit, said that he has learnt a lot while playing under great captains like MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli.
“I have played under great captains like MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli and hopefully I will use the learnings when I captain the team. I will make mistakes along the way but I will learn and get better,” he said.
Rahul qualified Venkatesh Iyer as an exciting prospect for Team India and said seam bowling all-rounders like him are always an asset and give the much-needed team balance to the side.
With Hardik Pandya not in the side, Venkatesh is all set to play and he will have a chance to present his case as an allrounder. “Yes, Venkatesh Iyer has been very exciting since he has played for KKR and done really well there and he joined us for the T20I series against New Zealand. He did really well there, fast-bowling all-rounders are always an asset. We are always looking for fast-bowling all-rounders. They balance the team out really well. He has looked good in the nets and it is a great opportunity for him to do well in South Africa,” said Rahul.
Asked whether playing conditions in Paarl will assist spinners, Rahul said the pitch might offer a lot more for the spinners than what it did in the Test series
“We have practised for a couple of days at Boland Park and the pitch does look like it might offer a lot more for the spinners than what we saw in the Test series,” the opener said.
“We have quality spinners. Ashwin is coming back into the one-day team and we all know what quality he brings. And Chahal has been a great performer for us for a number of years. If there is any help from the pitch, I know these two can exploit it. So they become really important for us,” he added.