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India's KL Rahul will open the battting tomorrow against South Africa. Image Credit: AFP

Perth: Ahead of India’s third Super 12 match against South Africa in Men’s T20 World Cup at Perth, batting coach Vikram Rathour confirmed that KL Rahul will open the batting in Sunday’s match at Perth, brushing aside suggestions of Rishabh Pant opening in place of him.

In India’s victories over Pakistan and Netherlands, Rahul hasn’t got the best of starts, scoring just 13 runs so far at an average of 6.50. “No. we are not really thinking that. Two games isn’t anyways a good enough sample size. He’s been batting really well and has batted really well in practice games also. So, we are not looking at any such thing at the moment,” said Rathour in the pre-match press conference.

Express bowlers

In India’s campaign till now, Rahul has been strictly moderate and was dismissed by express pace bowlers Naseem Shah and Paul van Meekeren. His opening partner, captain Rohit Sharma, was scratchy before taking up the aggressive approach, an illustration of which was seen in his 53 against Netherlands at Sydney.

Asked about the differences in approaches of Rahul and Rohit, Rathour remarked, “Every player has his own style of playing. Both of them have their own way of playing and constructing their innings, while looking at the surface. There have been good partnerships too, where both of them have played well and shown good form, which they do really well.”

“I am sure that the day Rahul will be in good form and he’s striking the ball from the middle of the bat, he can take up the role of the aggressor very easily and he will do that. It’s not like one will be the aggressor and another won’t be. We are looking to score as many runs as we can as a batting unit. So, whosoever has to play in an (aggressive) way, we will do that.”

With Rahul set to continue opening the batting with Rohit, it means that Pant will have to wait a little longer to get a look-in to the playing eleven. Rathour stated that the swashbuckling left-handed batter is being asked to be fully prepared if an opportunity arises for him to be in the playing eleven.

Good player

“Unfortunately, only eleven players can be in the team to play the match. I know and understand that Rishabh is an extremely good player and we have seen what he can do in matches against any opposition. So, the conversation with him has been to be ready as a chance can come anytime to him and opportunity can arrive any moment.”

“It becomes important for him to be physically and mentally ready, which he’s doing that. Like many people can see that he’s practising regularly and is trying to keep himself mentally prepared. Let’s see when his chance arrives, but I am sure whenever the opportunity comes, he will be ready.”