Shikhar Dhawan broke his rut in Twenty20 Internationals by slamming his 10th fifty and his first after 15 innings. Rohit Sharma has been in grand form in limited-overs formats as well as in Tests in the past one year. KL Rahul is having a purple patch in Twenty20 Internationals, having hit 99 runs in the two matches against Sri Lanka while also hitting fifties in the series against Bangladesh and West Indies. With all the three openers doing well, the race for the opening slot in the upcoming series as well as in the World T20 which will be played in October is undergoing an intense competition.
Speaking before the first ODI beteween India and Australia at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, India cricket team batting coach Vikram Rathour said it was a great thing for the side that there is such an intense competition for the opening slot. "It's a good dilemma to have. Rohit is an obvious choice of course. Both of them (Shikhar and Rahul) are playing well. Shikhar has done well in one- dayers and Rahul is in great form. So we'll deal with it when we have to. There are still a couple of days to go. The management will sit down and make the choice. We'll take it as any other series and playing against one of the better sides in the world, we are looking to do well as a team, looking to perform and win if possible," Rathour said.
The year 2020 is the year of the World T20 and most teams will be determined to play as much Twenty20 Internationals as possible. However, India will be playing two ODI series with three games against Australia while they will also play three ODIs in New Zealand which will be sanswiched between the five-match Twenty20 Internationals and the two Tests. However, Rathour said gaining confidence in any format only helps the bowlers and batsmen. "It's a different format and cricket is a game of confidence. So as a batter and bowler, especially when you are playing against a team like Australia, who are one of the better teams in the world, performances do make a difference. It gives you a lot of confidence," Rathour said.
Australia are touring with a full-strength side with the likes of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, David Warner and Steve Smith in the side. Australia will be boosted by their performances in the last year when they defeated the Indian cricket team 3-2 in the ODIs and 2-0 in the Twenty20 Internationals. This was Australia's first win in a Twenty20 series in India while it was their first ODI series win after 10 years.
Shikhar Dhawan smashed his 10th T20I fifty during the clash against Sri Lanka in Pune. (Image credit: Getty Images)
Looking at the squad strength of both the sides, former Australia batsman Dean Jones is impressed by the quality of the squads and is looking forward to a great contest between Rohit Sharma and David Warner, the two most explosive opening batsmen currently in the world.
"Rohit Sharma and David Warner are good at both sides of the ground. If you shut one side of the ground, they will find a way to get runs on the other side of the ground. These guys are not only physically fit, but mentally fit as well and they have a vivacious appetite for runs and I want to see who wins this battle. That's the thing with bowlers with a rate of 140 plus, when they bowl above 140 and you make a mistake, you dont have a time - you get bowled out or LBW and that is why the team likes to have bowlers that bowl at a 140," Jones told 'Game Plan' on Star Sports.