Sure of Kohli, Rahul getting back to form at the right time for India, says Saba Karim

NEW DELHI: Saba Karim, the former India wicketkeeper-batter and ex-member of the senior selection committee, said he was highly optimistic about right-handed batters Virat Kohli and KL Rahul getting back to finding form at the right time for the side after the duo go through “2-3 good practice sessions”.
Both Kohli and Rahul are coming back to India’s T20I side for the Asia Cup. But the challenge for the duo is to adapt themselves to the new, attacking approach with the bat India has embraced whenever the duo were not featuring regularly since last year’s T20 World Cup in the UAE.
In the past, both Rahul and Kohli have been known for being slow starters in the shortest format of the game though the latter did show signs of adapting to that approach during the two T20Is he played against England in July, going for his shots right from the word go before falling cheaply.
“My top order is captain Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli. And I’m backing experience to do well against a big team like Pakistan and also in an important tournament like Asia Cup. I can understand that Virat Kohli has struggled with form.”
“KL Rahul, would love to see him get more runs but I still feel that both Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, if they undergo 2-3 good practice sessions, I’m sure they’ll get back to form at the right time for India,” said Karim.
Karim further remarked that he sees the option of Suryakumar Yadav being used as a floater in India’s playing eleven for the versatility he brings in to the side. Apart from possessing a range of shots against pacers and spinners, Suryakumar can excel in any role, seen from his 117 against England coming at number four or his sparkling 76 against West Indies as an opener.
“Suryakumar Yadav is such a multi-dimensional player, I can keep him as a floater. I can push him up the order, if my two openers bat say till the 7th-8th over, I can push in SKY then. Or in case it is required, I can also push him down the order because he’s such a player who can give me value at whatever number he bats and I’m looking at my 4-5-6 as floaters.”
Karim signed off by stating he would keep Rishabh Pant’s role flexible in the eleven due to his left-handedness, which is a rare scene in India’s right-handed heavy main batting order. “I will in fact keep Rishabh Pant very handy. Because if I feel that I need to push in a left-hander at the top of the order, I can do that as well. But as of now my fixed three positions at the top would be Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli.”
Karim said that he would prefer to have Rishabh Pant in India’s playing eleven for Asia Cup over Dinesh Karthik, citing the x-factor provided by the left-handed wicketkeeper-batter.
With Kohli and Rahul set to return to India’s playing eleven ahead of their Asia Cup campaign opener against Pakistan on Sunday, it means that there is only one batting slot left for the wicketkeeper, implying a toss-up between Pant and Karthik.
“Well in my 11, I could’ve only picked one wicketkeeper batter, because if I’m getting in KL Rahul and Virat Kohli that leaves me with the choice of picking only one player between Dinesh Kartik and Rishabh Pant.”
“I’ve gone ahead with Rishabh Pant because he’s such an X-Factor for India and I can see him delivering some stellar performances even this Asia Cup,” said Karim.
Since his comeback to India T20I side in June against South Africa, Karthik has been bringing out the required finishing acts in the last five overs phase. A 27-ball 55 on a tough pitch at Rajkot and an unbeaten 19-ball 41 on a tricky pitch against West Indies at Trinidad have been some examples of Karthik’s finishing role benefitting India in recent times.
Pant, on the other hand, has had a mixed run since the T20I series against South Africa in June, where he was the stand-in skipper, falling while trying to slash through the off-side on all four occasions. After being tried as an opener twice against England, Pant showed signs of finding his form, with his highest score being 44 in fourth T20I against West Indies at Lauderhill, USA.
Karim remarked that picking Pant ahead of Karthik will give India the space to play with five bowlers, which doesn’t leave room for both keepers to be in the playing eleven.
“I’m also preferring a combination which allows me to play five wicket-taking bowlers. On top of that, I have Hardik Pandya as my sixth bowling option. So, if I go in with this kind of combination then I don’t have space for two wicketkeepers.”
India and Pakistan open their Asia Cup Group A campaign in a much-anticipated clash at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday, which will mark the resumption of ‘greatest rivalry’ in the world of cricket.
This will also be the first meeting between these two teams after facing off in the Men’s T20 World Cup last year in the UAE, where Pakistan secured a resounding 10-wicket victory over India, their first such victory in Men’s World Cups.

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