Ahead of India's white-ball series against West Indies, Aakash Chopra has stated that KL Rahul batting in the middle-order will put some pressure on Rishabh Pant. Chopra further added that Rahul's wicket-keeping skills will be a threat to Pant, if the southpaw fails to score runs consistently.
India will host West Indies for a three-match ODI series and as many T20Is, starting from February 6. The tour will begin with the first ODI on Sunday in Ahmedabad, and the remaining two fixtures will also be played at the same venue. After the conclusion of the ODI series, the teams will move to Kolkata for the three-match T20I series, which begins on February 16.
The BCCI recently announced the India squad for the white-ball series against West Indies, and as per reports, KL Rahul will miss the first ODI as he will take part in a family function. The India vice-captain will be available from the second ODI, and will look forward to continuing his good form with the bat. Recently, Rahul led India in a three-match ODI series against South Africa, but the Proteas handed a harrowing 3-0 defeat to the Men in Blue in the limited-over series. Rahul, who opened the innings for India could manage only 76 from three matches at an average of 25.33.
Meanwhile, Aakash Chopra has stated that the ODI World Cup is one-and-a-half years away, and it is time for Rahul to bat in the middle-order in ODIs for Team India. Chopra further added that Rahul batting in the middle-order will put some pressure on Rishabh Pant.
"The World Cup is one-and-a-half years away and we have seen a lot of things change in three months, this has been the story of Indian cricket of late. He [Rahul] will have to play in the middle order now. When he plays in the middle order, I feel he will put some pressure on Rishabh Pant as well," he said.
Rishabh Pant has been a brilliant performer for Team India over the years in all formats of the game, but his inconsistency with the bat has raised the eyebrows of many. In the three-match ODI series against South Africa, Pant scored 85 runs in the second fixture, but threw away his wicket in the very first ball he faced in the final game. The southpaw's shot selection at crucial junctures of the game has opened doors for fuming debates among fans and experts.
Chopra reckoned that Rahul's wicketkeeping will be a threat to Pant, if the left-hand batsman fails to score runs consistently for Team India.
"He [Pant] will need to be consistent. You can kill two birds with one stone because when KL Rahul had batted in the middle order in ODI cricket, he was playing as a wicketkeeper. He had performed that role well although he was given a chance to do that in very few matches," he added.