India heads into the match on the back of a dominant 10-wicket win.
India heads into the match on the back of a dominant 10-wicket win.

All bases covered: Skipper KL Rahul needs game time

The immediate target for the touring side could be to try and bat first in case Rahul wins the toss in Saturday’s second ODI here.

HARARE: Skipper KL Rahul would hope to get some valuable batting time as the India team is expected to recalibrate its goals and create some challenge for itself in the remaining two ODIs against Zimbabwe.

The gulf between the two teams would always make these kind of bilateral contests lopsided, but the bigger goal for the ‘Men in Blue’ would be to push the limits.

The immediate target for the touring side could be to try and bat first in case Rahul wins the toss in Saturday’s second ODI here.

The early start on a bouncy track and sufficient nip in the air would pose some challenges for the batters. Deepak Chahar had pointed out after the first match that there is little help for the bowlers during the second period and that the only time there is some test for the batters is the first hour of the game.

Before the Asia Cup, a morning session with deliveries moving both sides, albeit with a gentle pace, would make a decent enough session for Rahul. While ‘Captain Rahul’ showed his elder statesman like qualities by letting Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill open in the first match, the ‘Batter Rahul’ needs to get his priorities right ahead of the Asia Cup.

He needs to quickly adapt to Team India’s attacking philosophy at all costs from the onset and that cannot happen overnight. Against a side like Zimbabwe, Rahul would get an ideal opportunity to experiment with his batting. Similarly, Deepak Hooda, if given a chance to bat up the order, can build his confidence.

Then, there is wicketkeeper-batter Sanju Samson. If he plays at No.4, it gives him ample scope to build an innings of significance. As much as he would like to experiment, acting head coach VVS Laxman would not mind winning the series first before giving some of the reserves a chance to test themselves.

Therefore, a left-right combination of Ishan Kishan and Rahul won’t be a bad option in case Dhawan’s forearm injury sustained towards the end of the first match turns out to be serious. Winning the three-match series is important, but creating different kinds of situations and testing the game awareness of the younger lot in pressure cooker scenario should be on the checklist.

Pacer Chahar bowling seven overs at one stretch is a good sign and indicator that he is gradually building up his workload.

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