NEW DELHI: After losing his place in the Test side, KL Rahul may just be in for a promotion in the shortest format. In the West Indies series to be played in December, the right-hander might be pushed up from No 3 to the top if the team wants to try out someone in place of Shikhar Dhawan.
There is another if and that is the availability of Virat Kohli. The captain had opted out of the T20I series against Bangladesh, when Rahul played No 3 and Dhawan opened with Rohit Sharma. If Kohli comes back, Rahul loses his place there. With Dhawan not having a great time, there are talks that the selectors might look at someone else when the squads for the three T20Is and three ODIs against the West Indies are picked in Kolkata on November 21.
Although Mayank Agarwal’s name is heard in this connection and he has a decent T20 record, the selectors are unlikely at this stage to go for an opener who hasn’t played international cricket in the shorter formats. That brightens Rahul’s chances, if Dhawan continues his lean run which started in the West Indies in August, when he rejoined the team after recovering from a finger fracture sustained in the World Cup.
“Looking ahead to next year’s T20 World Cup, if the selectors look at a third opener now after Rohit and Shikhar, it has to be Rahul. He is in the squad as a back-up opener and played at No 3 against Bangladesh because Kohli wasn’t around. There are no plans of looking at another opener by leaving Rahul out of the picture. If Shikhar continues to flop, his replacement is already there in the squad,” said sources tracking developments.
Dhawan, who made 117 against Australia in a World Cup match where he got injured, made 2 and 36 in ODIs in the West Indies. His tally in eight T20Is since reads 194 at 24.25. The left-hander has gone without a half-century in his last 10 international outings. Hoping to get back in form in domestic T20s, he made 0, 9, 19, and 35 in four games for Delhi.
Not that Rahul has done anything exceptional in this period, but returns of 20, 15, 8* and 52 in four T20Is in the period under consideration are better than Dhawan’s. He has been among the runs in the domestic circuit too. So if Dhawan has to be replaced, the odds are with Rahul at the moment, unless things change dramatically in favour of Agarwal.
It can be noted that the selectors are trying out players in different roles. After fast and spin bowlers, wicketkeepers and middle-order batsmen, this might be time to look at some opening options.