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Indian openers Ishan Kishan (left) and Ruturaj Gaikwad have been giving the team the right start to set the platform for big scores against South Africa. Image Credit: AFP

In the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL), the form of India’s two premier batters Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli was below par and both opted to take breaks to be fresh for the big challenge in England.

KL Rahul, the stand-in skipper in Rohit’s absence, also got injured and was ruled out of the series. In their absence openers, Ishan Kishan and Ruturaj Gaikwad, have grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Kishan, the pocket Dynamo, has had scores of 76, 34 and 54 at a strike-rate of more than 150, while Gaikwad too had two decent outings, scoring 57 and 24 at strike rate of 155 plus. Both batters have laid the foundation with starts of 57 and 97 in two out of the three games, where India went on to score 211 in the first and 179 in the third. Both play seam and spin with ease and the right-left combination has clicked well for team India.

Slow starters

Now the big question is, what will the team management do when the big boys are back? Mind you Rohit Sharma did not score a single half century in the IPL for the first time in his career and looked woefully out of form. India’s other premier batter Kohli scored three ducks and was not at his fluent best with a strike rate that was below 120. Both are slow starters and take their time in getting off the blocks and have a similar style of getting their eye in before going for the big shots. They have the experience of playing big games, but will India go for experience or select two fearless young openers? Don’t forget one is the captain of India, so it requires a bold step of leaving these stars out.

India won their first World Cup in South Africa when Mahendra Singh Dhoni took an young Indian side and MSD became an overnight hero. The rest is history. India have not won a T20 World Cup with the big boys in their last six attempts after that first win in 2007. Can Indian team management take the bold step of leaving the two big boys out for Australia showpiece and play with a young fearless team, led by Motta bhai (big brother) Hardik Pandya, who do not carry an excess baggage and can express themselves in the shortest format. Looks a long shot, but like the T20 format, no risk no gain.