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Sharma, Dhawan to open innings in first ODI: Kohli

Shikhar Dhawan, who was dropped from the playing eleven after the first T20I, will open the batting with Rohit Sharma in the first ODI against England at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, India skipper Virat Kohli said on Monday.

India has featured four opening combinations in the recent five-match T20 International series against England with Kohli and Sharma opening in the final match.

“As far as the opening partnership is concerned, Shikhar and Rohit will definitely start. When it comes to ODI cricket, I don’t think there is any issue or doubt over Rohit or Shikhar opening together. They have been amazing for us in the past few years,” said Kohli while speaking to the media in the pre-match media interaction.

Dhawan’s ODIs performance has been good although he has only played nine ODIs since June 2019, after sustaining a thumb injury during a World Cup match against Australia and also because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In two of those, he did not bat, including once due to another injury.

He has got scores of 2, 36, 74, 96, 74, 30, and 16 in the seven times he has batted, averaging 46.85.

The ongoing ODI series is being played in a year where the focus is more on the T20 Internationals, due to the T20 World Cup that will be played in India in October-November as well as the World Test Championship final in London in June where India play New Zealand.

Kohli said since scheduling is not in players’ hands they will have to take into regard the workload and manage it properly.

“Scheduling is something that is not in our control. For us, it is an international game. Every international game is important and has value. It is an opportunity to represent your team and for us, that remains the sole focus. Yes, as I have said many times in the past that scheduling and workload are something that everyone has to be aware of and keep an eye out for. Especially in today’s day and age where you just don’t know when the restrictions might come in and you may even have to play in bubbles in the future,” added Kohli.

“I think it is very important to consider how much cricket you are playing – not just the physical side of things but also the mental side of things. The players need to be spoken to and consulted with. Otherwise, it is going to be a case with whoever can last through difficult times, players who don’t the last move away and someone else replaces that player. I don’t think that is healthy for the cricket system and cricket culture moving forward. We definitely want to make it (system and culture) stronger and stronger going forward in the future.”

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