Contrary to some opinions suggesting it as a backward step, Raina views this move as a wise call, especially with the T20 World Cup looming on the horizon.
“If you look at the World Cup venues (in the USA and the West Indies), the wickets will be a bit tricky. India will need the experience of Rohit and Kohli there. Kohli is about to make 12000 runs in T20 cricket. So, their presence will boost India’s batting,” Raina expressed in a recent interaction.Raina believes that the inclusion of Rohit and Kohli will provide much-needed solidity to the squad, offering an enhanced chance for success in the upcoming T20 World Cup. He underlined their exceptional form in the ODI World Cup and Rohit’s impactful leadership in the dressing room.
Expressing his thoughts on the batting order, Raina suggested that Kohli should bat at No. 3, allowing the opening slots to Rohit Sharma and the promising
Yashasvi Jaiswal. He emphasized the importance of their experience, especially in high-pressure situations during a World Cup.
“I think Kohli should bat at No. 3. His experience will bring in some solidity, especially in the challenging pitches in the US and the Caribbean. There are fearless, young cricketers like Jaiswal, Rinku Singh or Shubman Gill but Rohit and Kohli will give the unit a lot of solidity. Their presence is very important when we chase a target especially in a high-pressure event like the World Cup,” said Raina.
Raina, a vital part of India’s World Cup-winning teams in 2007 and 2011, also expressed delight at the progress of Rinku Singh. He praised Rinku’s performances and fearlessness, suggesting that having him in the squad, along with the potential return of Rishabh Pant, would add more match-winners.
Sanju Samson, Raina’s leading choice for the wicketkeeper-batsman role, was labeled as the X-Factor. Raina praised Samson’s recent century against South Africa and highlighted his captaincy material. He acknowledged the competition for the wicketkeeper-batsman position, including players like KL Rahul, Jitesh Sharma, Ishan Kishan, and Pant.
Anticipating a challenging T20I series against Afghanistan, Raina emphasized the need for India’s batters to put pressure on the Afghan spinners. He identified Afghanistan’s quality spinners, Noor Ahmad and Abid Nabi, and urged the Indian batsmen, including Rohit, Kohli, and Gill, to attack from the start to keep the Afghan bowlers under pressure.
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The inclusion of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli after a 14-month gap is now seen as a strategic move, guided by the intent to strengthen the team ahead of the T20 World Cup, and Raina’s positive remarks add an interesting perspective to this development.
(With inputs from PTI)