Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Dhoni backs Rahane as World Cup opener

KOCHI: Skipper MS Dhoni has given a strong indication that Mumbai batsman Ajinkya Rahane will be his preferred choice to open the innings in the World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand next year.

This means Rohit Sharma, whose place as an opener was taken over by Rahane when the former got injured, will bat in the middle order.

Dhoni reckons that the technically sound Rahane, who has been playing well on difficult pitches, is better suited for the opener's job in Australia.

"Rahane opens even in IPL and considering the fact that Rajasthan Royals play on a wicket that has pace and bounce, he has been doing a consistent job for them in this position. I feel he should take the responsibility of being an opener in the coming days," Dhoni said during a media interaction on the eve of the first ODI against West Indies on Wednesday.

Rohit, who has been opening the innings for India since the fourth ODI of the home series against England in January 2013, can shift to the middle order, believes Dhoni.

"If Rahane opens the innings and Rohit bats in the middle, it gives more depth to our batting. Definitely that's the plan," added the skipper.

Rohit, however, has done a decent job after being elevated to the opening slot. He even scored a double hundred in an ODI against Australia (209) in Nov 2013, becoming only the third player to do so.

Rahane, on the other hand, started as an opener in the NatWest series against England and made 40 on his debut. Scoring a century and four half-centuries as an opener from 34 matches, Rahane will be happy to continue in his role as he is touted to be a better player when conditions help seam and swing.

"Rahane did well in England as an opener (2011 series). I firmly believe that he has much more to offer as an opener. He is a good player against spinners too," Dhoni added.

On playing three spinners against West Indies, Dhoni said he would be hoping to see how the young spinners - Kuldeep Yadav and Akshar Patel - deliver.

"It is a great chance for us to test these young men. We would like to check how they handle pressure in big games. Conditions will be different abroad as they get more support from Indian wickets. There are not many games left before the World Cup and we will see what we can achieve before the big event."

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