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Pant likely but toss-up between Rahul, Dhawan

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Ahmedabad, March 10 (IANS) India’s winning combination from the T20 International series in Australia will definitely change especially in batting with Rohit Sharma coming in as opener and Rishabh Pant likely to don the gloves ahead of K.L. Rahul.

Sharma will open with either Shikhar Dhawan or K.L. Rahul while Pant will most likely play in the middle-order, coming in place of Sanju Samson who played the matches in Australia. He will, however, keep wickets ahead of Rahul who opened in Australia and also kept wickets.

On Wednesday, India vice-captain Rohit Sharma, who is set to feature in a T20 International after a gap of over a year said that Pant has come of age but it is important for others not to put pressure on him and let him be.

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“I think if we can let Rishabh Pant be Rishabh Pant, he will come out and give you those performances. I have said the same in the past. Leave Rishabh Pant alone and he will give you those performances. He can only go from strength to strength from here. There is no looking back for him. So far he has done exceptionally well in the last few months,” said Sharma while speaking to the media on Wednesday.

“He has performed really well and I don’t see anything stopping him. He likes to enjoy his game. That is what we as team management and team players expect from him. Be out there and enjoy the game and do what he likes to do. The good thing about him now is that he is starting to understand the game situation which is good. Looked good in all the departments. (If he performs in T20Is) that will take his confidence a notch higher,” added Sharma.

It remains to be seen if Pant comes in at No. 4, which was occupied by Sanju Samson in Australia T20Is, or if he comes in at No. 5 or No. 6 and push Hardik Pandya and Shreyas Iyer down.

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If India decide to play both Shikhar Dhawan and K.L. Rahul alongside Rohit Sharma, Rahul will most likely shift down the order. If he bats at No. 4, then India may even think of not playing Iyer and draft Pant at No. 5 and Pandya at No. 6.

Alternately India may leave out Dhawan and open with Rahul and Sharma.

“We have not decided the composition, can’t discuss that. Wait till 12th,” said Sharma.

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India have also drafted in the Mumbai Indians duo of Ishan Kishen and Suryakumar Yadav who lit up the Indian Premier League 2020 while leading their team to the title.

If one of the two plays, then probably one of Dhawan or Rahul and Iyer may have to be benched considering that Pant looks a certainty.

–IANS

kh/kr

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