5 batsmen who could open in KL Rahul’s absence in Champions Trophy 2017

Here’s a look at the 5 batsmen who could find themselves to represent India for the Champions Trophy in place of KL Rahul.

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Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir plays a shot. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Come June, defending champions India will once again look to slip into the white blazers and take the podium on the night of the final, with a display of fireworks for a backdrop. Team India is, however, likely to miss the services of one of its up and coming players at the opening slot.

KL Rahul has been amongst the runs at the international arena, especially in the longest format of the game. He displays an exemplary composure while at the crease, and his exquisite strokeplay attracts ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from viewers across the globe. As far as India’s young guns are concerned, KL Rahul probably leads the pack as of date.

Under testing conditions against a defiant visiting Australian team, Rahul stood strong at the top of the order. Despite the shoulder injury he picked up during the Test series, he made appropriate adjustments to his batting. Not only did Rahul play through the entire series, he was the only Indian batsman who scored runs on a regular basis under all circumstances. Patience and class he has plenty and these qualities were on full display in his batting during the hard-fought Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Nevertheless, the youngster is all but ruled out of the all-important tournament as he hasn’t recovered from his shoulder injury.

With a significant void created by Rahul’s absence, the BCCI will have to rack their brains to find an opener who could fill in for KL. Fortunately for the selectors, they can take hints from the ongoing Indian Premier League which has witnessed a pool of reliable openers at work. Here’s a look at the 5 batsmen who could find themselves on their way to the United Kingdom to represent India for the Champions Trophy in place of KL Rahul.

1. Shikhar Dhawan

Shikhar Dhawan
Indian cricketer Shikhar Dhawan. (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

This is a batsman who stunned every observer with his shots that peppered the off-side on his debut Test against the mighty Australians. To top it off, Shikhar Dhawan went on to score the fastest Test century by a debutant. The icing on the cake would perhaps have been a double century, but Dhawan fell short by an unlucky 13 runs.

Shikhar Dhawan has been a prolific batsman, but as has been the case with many greats in the game, consistency hasn’t always been his friend. While Dhawan was the man of the series in the previous edition of the Champions Trophy, he was also axed from the national side following a couple of poor performances in the ODI series against England earlier this year. He has had to cede his opening spot in Test matches to KL Rahul, who has looked classy along with the dependable Murali Vijay.

Dhawan however has an opportunity offered to him on a silver platter in the form of the IPL. His sizable opening stands and aggressive batting with his Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper could well earn him a call-up for the mega-event.

2. Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma
Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma at the training camp. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Rohit Sharma’s name remains etched in every cricket almanac for his two blistering double hundreds in ODIs. His earth-shattering innings of 264 against Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens has him sitting pretty at the no.1 position in the list of highest individual scores in ODIs.

It mustn’t go unsaid that this was a batsman who struggled to find his touch in his earlier days at the international stage. However, the decision to send Rohit to open the innings turned out to be a masterstroke. Rohit finally discovered his true batting prowess, as did the rest of the cricketing fraternity. Talent seemed to ooze out of his strokeplay; shots along the ground or those that cleared the field – he had them all.

As of date, Rohit Sharma has cemented his spot in the Indian ODI team. However, failures continue to haunt the batsman. With a tournament as important as the Champions Trophy round the corner, Rohit will really have to step up his game in the IPL to make a case for his selection.

3. Gautam Gambhir

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Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir. (Photo by Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/GettyImages)

The day after the 2011 World Cup final, which saw MS Dhoni blast a six over mid-wicket to crown his team world champions, newspapers across India printed headlines which read ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’. However, the man pictured below that headline was actually Gautam Gambhir. When the chips were down on the biggest night of Indian cricket, Gambhir not only steadied the ship for his side, but also set up an emphatic victory over Sri Lanka to clinch the world cup.

For some reason, the selectors have been harsh on Gambhir as of late. He was last seen wearing India colours against in January 2013 against England. Gambhir however has consistently been amongst the runs in the IPL. The 10th edition of the star-studded tournament has also seen the left-hander score freely.

One cannot deny that Gautam Gambhir is one of India’s most experienced players, who is still far from the sunset of his career. With over 10,000 international runs Gambhir remains a dangerous batsman at the top of the order. With KL Rahul out of the picture, this could be the defining moment in Gambhir’s revival of his international career.

4. Parthiv Patel

Parthiv Patel forgotten faces Indian cricket
Indian cricketer Parthiv Patel attends a training session. (Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Although Parthiv Patel still looks like a little boy, the wicket-keeper batsman has grown considerably in experience. An international career which began way back in 2002 at the iconic Trent Bridge stadium has had more pauses than games. In a span of 15 years, Parthiv has played just 23 Tests and 38 ODIs. His career has seen him make sporadic comebacks, only to lose his place behind the stumps completely with the advent of MS Dhoni.

The 32-year old is now playing as an aggressive opener for the Mumbai Indians. Parthiv Patel has got himself quick starts, but he would be disappointed to have been unable to convert them into 50s. Nevertheless, with Wriddhiman Saha injured, Parthiv cashed in well when he was given a chance to represent India in this year’s Test series against England.

He has a slim chance to open the innings for India in the Champions Trophy, but a chance nonetheless. If Parthiv can extend his next couple of innings in the IPL, he might well receive that much-awaited call after all.

5. Sanju Samson

Sanju Samson India A
Sanju Samson. (Photo Source: PTI)

The biggest stop in Sanju Samson’s cricketing journey has clearly been the IPL. The youngster from Kerala made contributions every time he came out to bat for the Rajasthan Royals. Under the tutelage of coach Rahul Dravid, Samson matured as a batsman. The results were imminent, as Samson followed up a good 2013 season with a bright 2014 edition in the IPL.

Of late, Samson has become a sensation after he scored a spectacular 100 against the Rising Pune Supergiant. He became the first batsman to score a century in the ongoing edition of the IPL and has followed it up with a set of quick starts for the Delhi Daredevils.

Although Samson has represented India in just the one T20 international, a few dominating performances for DD will bolster his chances to play for the nation in the Champions Trophy.

The BCCI will have to put their heads together to eventually select the best possible opening pair for the major tournament. These five players will keep their fingers crossed and hope to find themselves at the crease in June, donning the vivid blue jersey.

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