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Probable opening combination(s) India could zero in on in T20Is after Rohit & Virat's exit

What could be Team India's probable opening combinations in T20Is after Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli's retirement?

India tour of Zimbabwe: Who will be Team India's openers in T20Is after Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli | Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©X_Twitter)
India tour of Zimbabwe: Who will be Team India's openers in T20Is ? (Photo: ©X/Twitter)

Team India finally put an end to their ICC title drought in the form of reclaiming the T20 World Cup after 17 long years. But it also saw two of their biggest match-winners, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, retiring from the format, with the final against South Africa being the duo’s last game.

While the India skipper was the team’s highest run-getter in the World Cup with 253 runs, Virat played a stellar role with the bat in the important finale against South Africa. With their departure, there is a huge void at the top of the order. After all, these two have scored more than 8400 T20I runs between them. They sit pretty at the top of run charts in the format.

Now with them being gone, the newly crowned T20 World Cup champs will have to find a new set of long-term openers for the format. India have tried many openers including the likes of Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Yashasvi Jaiswal among others when Rohit Sharma didn’t feature in the line-up.

Here we will delve upon the possible opening combination(s) which India can go with, in the absence of their two premier batters.

Sure-shot contender: Yashasvi Jaiswal

The left-hander has been a revelation since making his debut for the country in 2023. He has featured for India in Tests & T20Is until the World Cup, where he filled in as a reserve opener. Naturally, Yashasvi Jaiswal should get the preference and nod as the opener of India’s T20 team in their new era. 

In the 16 innings he has played in the format for India, the left-hander has a century while scoring 502 runs at a strike rate of just under 162. In this brief period, we have seen his ability to take on any kind of bowling attack, be it spin or pace, giving the team a rapid start. These abilities made him an ideal starter for the ICC T20 World Cup too. Only the presence of Virat Kohli dented his chances. 

So who could be Yashasvi Jaiswal opening partners?

Asia Cup 2023, IND vs BAN, Super 4_ Shubman Gill scored 5th ODI ton; scored 121 against Bangladesh_ Walking wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Shubman Gill strikes at 147.6 in T20Is (Images: ©BCCI/X)

Shubman Gill

Shubman Gill, a prolific run-getter in ODI cricket for India has had a decent start to his T20I career. The right-hander who is currently the skipper of Gujarat Titans in the IPL has enjoyed a great deal of success playing the league. In 82 innings he has opened in the IPL, Gill has a respectable strike rate of 136.65 while scoring close to 3000 runs.

He has a penchant for scoring big runs as evident from his four centuries. This makes him an ideal foil for the more attacking Jaiswal at the top of the order. Their combination which is a mix of caution with aggression could very well yield Team India favourable results. Lastly, we shouldn’t forget Gill’s exploits at the international level where he has already amassed a century (126*) in just 14 innings. 

Ruturaj Gaikwad

Another strong contender to be in India’s scheme of things in the shortest format is Chennai Super Kings’ skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad. A player who possesses a similar skillset as Gill; Gaikwad can complement the attacking Yashasvi Jaiswal with his subtle stroke play.

Gaikwad too has an attacking game and is good against pace & spin alike. The right-hander has already smashed a century in this format for India in just 17 innings and that too at an amazing strike rate of a touch over 140. 

In IPL, where the CSK star batter is much more established, he has amassed 2289 runs as an opener in 60 innings with two centuries to his name. This further fuels the fact that he is hungry for runs and can take his game to the next level, per need.

Abhishek Sharma 

If India think out of the box and go for an all-out attacking option, then they could go for the Yashasvi-Abhishek combo. We have seen how Australia became successful with the presence of two left-handers David Warner and Travis Head at the top in both white ball World Cups. India could try a similar approach with this young and dynamic duo. 

But, knowing India’s team management, we might see a left-right combo at the top. However, with the inclusion of an uncapped Abhishek Sharma in the T20I set up for the first time, it does look like seeds are sown to make him a possible like-to-like replacement of Yashasvi Jaiswal. 

It is to be noted that all of these players are part of the current India team touring to Zimbabwe for a 5-match T20I series with Gill at the helm of things.


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