Rohit Sharma-led Team India will square off against Australia next in a three-match T20I series, beginning Tuesday in Mohali. It would be interesting to see whether the hosts continue with same level of experimentation that was on display during the Asia Cup, where the side failed to make it to the final of the continental tournament. Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel have recovered from their injuries, so that is an added bonus for Team India. Skipper Rohit Sharma on Sunday addressed a press conference where he spoke about what to expect and whether Virat Kohli can be looked at as an opener in the shortest format.

“It is always nice to have options available for you. It is important going into a World Cup that you have flexibility. You want the players to be in best shape batting at any position. When we try and do something new, that does not mean that’s a problem,” said Rohit during a press conference.

“For us, we understand the quality of all our players and what they bring for us. But yeah, it is an option (Virat Kohli opening) for us, we will always keep that in mind. Since we have not taken a third opener, he opens for his franchise in the IPL and he has done really well, so it is a definite option for us,” he said further while talking about whether Kohli can be looked at as an opener,” he added.

Further talking about Virat opening the batting, Rohit said: “Virat Kohli is our third opener and he will open in some of the games. In the last match of Asia Cup, we were happy with the way he played. But KL Rahul will open the batting in the World Cup, his performance sometimes goes quite unnoticed.”

“He is a very important player for Team India. For us, I just want to make it clear, we are clear in our thought process. We do not have any confusion, we are very clear what KL Rahul brings to the table for us, he is a quality player and is very important for us. His presence at the top is very crucial for us,” said the 35-year-old.

Ahead of the series opener, it was confirmed that Mohammed Shami won’t play any part as he has tested positive for COVID-19 and Umesh Yadav has been named as his replacement.

“There were few options, but few of them are injured like Prasidh. Siraj is playing county, we do not want him to fly all the way, maybe play one or two games. That won’t be fair. Obviously, Shami unfortunate incident with him. Avesh was quite sick in the Asia Cup and he needs some time to recover. From fitness point of view, he needed some time and rebuild his fitness. All those things were considered. Guys like Umesh, Shami, who have been bowling for a long time, they do not need to be playing a format to be considered,” said Rohit.

“They have proven themselves as players in whichever format they have played. We understand the quality, it is the new guys on whom it will depend whether they have played this format or not. But guys like Umesh and Shami, if they are fit and fine, they will be called back. We don’t need to look at their form, we saw how Umesh bowled in the IPL,” he stated further.

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Further talking about Umesh’s selection, Rohit said: “He bowled really well, he swings the ball, bowls fast. That was the thought, pretty simple actually. It was not much of a discussion for us. Keeping in mind World Cup is around the corner, we have tried a lot of players. We are very much clear in our thought process and how we want to move forward,” he added.

India squad for Australia series: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav.

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