Pant Sits Out; Rahul Continues To Keep Wickets
India go into the three match ODI series against New Zealand with a lot of momentum as they just thrashed the Kiwis at home in the 5 match T20 series to win 5-0. The first ODI starts on 5 Feb in Hamilton and India go in as the betting favorites with odds of 1.46 and the Kiwis have odds of 2.65.
India Go In With New Opening Pair
India have two of the best opening batsmen in ODI cricket in the form of S Dhawan and R Sharma. However, both of them are out of the New Zealand tour after suffering injuries. The backup opener in recent times has been KL Rahul who opened the innings in the T20 series with R Sharma.
However, KL Rahul will not be opening in the ODI format as captain V Kohli has other plans for him. Kohli confirmed that India will be trying out new openers during the ODI series as P Shaw and M Agarwal are likely to open the batting. The two openers are likely to also open in the test series which follows the ODI series.
This will be a good test for both these young openers as they have big shoes to fill. In one way, they will not be too overwhelmed in the ODI series as they know that they are only filling in the position as both R Sharma and S Dhawan are likely to come back straight into the ODI scheme of things once they fit again.
R Pant Loses Place To KL Rahul
The reason KL Rahul is not going to open the batting is because Kohli wants Rahul to keep in ODIs and bat at 5. This plan effectively rules out R Pant who is currently in the ODI squad as the main wicket keeper.
Rahul was keeping and opening in the T20 format but Kohli feels that the 50 over format will increase Rahul’s workload and make it difficult for him to open the innings and keep wicket. Having KL Rahul bat at number 5 also strengthens the middle order and gives India some serious hitting power towards the middle and death overs.
KL Rahul has been in great form while R Pant has struggled with his form for quite a long time. The option of playing KL Rahul as both keeper and a specialist batsmen gives the captain more flexibility with his playing XI. Pant sits out of ODIsKohli and head coach Ravi Shastri want to see how things play out in the Kiwi series.
Kiwis Have Opportunity To Bounce Back
The Kiwis were comprehensively beaten in the T20 series and will want to redeem themselves in front of their home crowd. They will be without their captain K Williamson for the first two ODIs but will still be fielding a rather strong team.
This is a great opportunity for the Kiwis to make inroads into the strong Indian batting line-up as they no longer have to deal with the dangerous R Sharma or the in-form KL Rahul at the top of the order. If they can get the wickets of P Shaw and M Agarwal early, they will be able to have a crack at Kohli with the new ball.
The Kiwis will also be able to dent the confidence of Shaw and Agarwal if they are able to dismiss them cheaply and this will work well for New Zealand going into the two match test series. On the other hand, if the two Indian openers find their feet and make good scores, it will make it difficult for the Kiwis to win!