To open or not to open: the Ishan Kishan debate

If KL Rahul is not fit to play the Asia Cup, India face quite a juggling act with Kishan, Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill – here’s what Ravi Shastri, MSK Prasad and Sandeep Patil think

Shashank Kishore

Shastri: India need three left-handers in the top seven

Who are the automatic picks in India’s World Cup squad? Ravi Shastri, MSK Prasad and Sandeep Patil have their say

Where does Ishan Kishan fit into India’s ODI puzzle if KL Rahul is not ready in time for the Asia Cup? This will be one of the big decisions the team management and selectors will face when they pick India’s Asia Cup squad later this week.

Kishan has scored 425 out of 694 ODI runs so far at the top of the series. These came in six innings at an average close to 80 and a strike rate of 125, with a best of 210 against Bangladesh late last year.

So the numbers clearly show that Kishan is better suited at the top, but that’s where Rohit Sharma sticks alongside Shubman Gill, whose ODI numbers for 2023 are also particularly compelling: 750 runs in 12 innings, including three hundred and two half centuries.

So is there a solution? Where does Kishan spend the night?

“Top of the order, nowhere else,” former India all-rounder and coach Ravi Shastri told Star Sports. Selection Day. “The others have to be versatile. Between Rohit, Virat and Gill, this can be 2-3-4.”

Like Shastri, former India wicketkeeper and chairman of selectors MSK Prasad, who picked India’s World Cup 2019 team, also felt that Kishan should get a run at a point where he feels more comfortable, even if that meant Rohit dropped down the order.

“I think that’s the tough part right now,” Prasad said, on the same Star Sports show, about India’s top-order pacer. “If you are looking at Gill opening with Rohit, then where to send Ishan Kishan is a concern. If you look at some of the roles he has played at No.4 or No.5, I don’t think he has justified putting him there.

“The best thing is that he likes to build up the order. Somehow, we have to accommodate him at the top of the order. Maybe that left-right combination of Rohit and Ishan Kishan will come in handy.

“Because Rohit always enjoyed the great company of Shikhar Dhawan (putting 18th century stands together). up the order.”

Shastri, who coached during the 2019 World Cup, said Dhawan missing the second half of this tournament was a big loss. Dhawan broke his finger during his century against Australia and was replaced in the team by Rishabh Pant. India opened with Rohit and KL Rahul for the rest of this World Cup.

“People don’t give Dhawan the credit he deserves,” Shastri said. “This guy was an amazing player. You mention the World Cup, when we lost the semi-final [to New Zealand at Old Trafford] after a brilliant World Cup, he was the missing man there. That made such a difference.

“He was missing a left-hander at the top of the order as opposed to three right-handers with the ball turning and letting teams figure out where to bowl and bowl consistently, he was missing. And Rohit is a different player when he has a left-hander at the other end. He is a completely different player.

“We’ve seen the stats, the stats don’t lie over a period of time, so I think a left-right pulse combination at the top will help. [Kishan’s] batting position, if you put him at 5-6, he is useless. He doesn’t know how to play. The pressure is on him to strike differently. He’s got a double hundred at the top of the order, he’s got some runs, he’s scoring fast. The thing about Kishan is if he’s there for 30-40 balls, he’ll go, he’ll take you to a flyer.”

Former India batsman and chief selector Sandeep Patil, another Selection Day guest, differed. Patil, who chaired India’s selection committee from 2012-2016, felt the change at this juncture, with the World Cup less than two months away, was unwarranted, especially given the kind of year Gill had in all forms.

“I’ll go with Gil [at the top]”I’m not sure if I agree with Ravi and MSK’s view where they say Rohit is comfortable if his partner is left-handed. As they say, [I agree] The only position Ishan can drop is No.1. So it’s a big decision to take.”

Shastri chimed in here, saying that Rohit would play a very important role in the whole process. “It’s a very good point… Shubman had a great 2023. That’s where versatility comes in. Rohit as a captain has a lot of experience. He can go 1-3-4. Here you have to see the mind of the player.

“How will Gill feel if he’s asked to bat 3-4 against the clock at the top? If he feels he’s better at the top – and the runs he’s made in recent years have been amazing – that’s where versatility comes into play and The captain will have to make a difficult decision.”

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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