India vs Sri Lanka 2017: Virat Kohli speaks about India's opening combination
What’s the story?
As has been the case for a while now, the Indian Test team seems to be dealing with a problem of plenty at the top of the order. With Murali Vijay back in the reckoning after successfully recovering from a wrist injury, the competition is between him, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan to occupy the top two slots in the Test XI.
Indian captain Virat Kohli, in a pre-match press conference at Kolkata, spoke about the opening conundrum:
“That situation [opening combination] has always seen the balance swing, now and then, between two guys doing well and one missing out: it happened with KL [Rahul] initially and then with Shikhar [Dhawan] in the middle. Now, with KL and Shikhar doing well, it is very difficult to pick two out of the three, when all are so good”.
In case you didn’t know…
Vijay, who had been India’s first choice opener when fit, was playing with a fractured wrist during the India-Australia Test series in March this year, and had to miss out on the IPL, subsequently travelling to London for a surgery.
In his absence, Shikhar Dhawan found his way back in the Test side, scoring 358 runs in three Tests during India’s tour to Lanka in July-August, and has been playing limited overs cricket as well.
The heart of the matter
Conceding that all three players have different skills sets and offer varying aspects to the team, Kohli said that each player knows that the balance needs to be maintained and that they might have to sit out to facilitate the process.
Speaking exclusively on Shikhar Dhawan’s terrific form since his return, Kohli said that the 31-year-old’s comeback has been a ‘revelation, both for himself, and for the team’. He also said that his attacking strokeplay gives a good platform to the rest of the batsmen, and deflates the opposition to a certain extent.
Kohli, as well as the team management, will have to choose between one out of the three available options as India aim to mimic their performance from the Sri Lanka leg on their final home series of 2017, starting with the first Test at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata from November 16.
While Vijay has been a dependable bulwark at the top for multiple seasons now, Rahul has been excellent whenever he has been fit. The two right-handers will vie for the two slots, along with Shikhar Dhawan, who seems to have a slight edge on paper, given his superb run against the same opposition in a few months back, and his continual international appearances, in multiple formats, in the lead-up to the series.
Rahul encountered a lull in form in limited-overs, and was dropped for the New Zealand ODI series. Given that the more testing South Africa series follows, Kohli would want the best from his top order, on their first tour to the rainbow nation since 2013.
Giving Vijay match time before the SA series will be imperative, given that he has been one of India’s most dependable batsmen away from home, and will be the key to India's success against the Faf du Plessis led team.