India head coach Rahul Dravid confirmed on Wednesday that the team will persist with Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal as openers in the run-up to the T20 World Cup, underlining the importance of a left-right pair at the pole position. Rohit has returned to India’s T20 scheme of things for the series against Afghanistan, beginning in Mohali on Thursday, after a hiatus of 14 months. His previous appearance was in the 2022 T20 World Cup semifinal against England at Adelaide.

Jaiswal has been opening in the shortest format since the away series against the West Indies in August last year.

“As of now, we will be opening with Rohit and Jaiswal. When you have a squad that offers flexibility, we can take a call that is in the best interest of the team,” Dravid said on the eve of the match.

“We are certainly happy with what Jaiswal has done for us as an opener. It also gives us the left-right combination at the top,” added Dravid.

However, that will leave the question on how to find a place for Shubman Gill, who either opens or comes at No. 3 in T20Is. It is pertinent because Virat Kohli too has made a comeback to T20Is along with Rohit.

Star batsman Kohli has been named in the squad for the series against Afghanistan, though he will be available only from the second T20I.

So, how is the think-tank going to accommodate Kohli in the eleven? Is pairing Kohli with Rohit at the top a rational move to make? Dravid did not entirely rule out that possibility.

“Nothing is closed (Kohli opening with Rohit). We have no doubt that the kind of ability and skill sets players like Rohit and Kohli possess, they will be able to find answers against different kind of bowling,” said Dravid.

The former Indian captain said the selection process will be dominated by the capability of a player to negate all circumstances, and will not merely rely on the desire to field a left-right combination.

“We still have left-handers in the line-up. But it is not only about left-handers but it is their ability to play through a period and to be able to tackle different kinds of spin that there is.

“Players like Rinku, Jaiswal and Tilak have come in as well, which adds a nice string to the bow. But in the end, we make selection on the basis of performance, not just on the left-hand or right-hand batsman,” he insisted.

The Bengaluru man was wholesome in his praise for Rinku Singh, and lauded the Uttar Pradesh batter for performing the high-pressure job of finisher with aplomb.

“He has been performing well in the role of a finisher. This series (against Afghanistan) is another opportunity for him to develop himself as a cricketer further.

“Whatever opportunity he gets here or in the IPL, it will be good for his development. Whenever a player does well, he always remains in the thoughts of the selector,” he said.

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