Former India batting coach Sanjay Bangar has opined that Mayank Agarwal should open with Shikhar Dhawan in the ongoing 3-match T20I series against Australia. He added that KL Rahul, who he believes has served the Indian team very well in the recent past, should be used in the middle order.
In India’s 11-run victory in the opening match on Friday (December 4), KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan opened the innings, while Manish Pandey and Sanju Samson batted at No. 4 and No. 5 respectively. While KL Rahul top-scored with a 40-ball 51, Dhawan was dismissed for 1 off 6 balls.
Sanjay Bangar, on the Star Sports show Gameplan, said that KL Rahul has fared well batting at No. 5 for India in the 50-over format of late and that the same should be followed in T20Is too.
“KL Rahul has done great service to the Indian team in the recent past when he’s batted at No. 5, but I believe that Mayank Agarwal may just open with Shikhar Dhawan,” Bangar, who played 12 Tests and 15 ODIs, said.
While Dhawan and Agarwal opened in the recently concluded ODI series, KL Rahul – batting at No. 5 – accumulated 93 runs in the three games, including a valiant 66-ball 76 in the second ODI at the Sydney Cricket Ground on November 29.
Notably, the Indian wicketkeeper was the second-highest run-scorer in the away ODI series against New Zealand earlier this year. He amassed 204 runs at an average of 102 in 3 ODIs, including a 113-ball 112 in the final ODI.
Sanjay Bangar acknowledged that Rohit Sharma would have automatically filled up one of the opener’s slots. However, in the absence of Rohit, Bangar wants the left-right combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Mayank Agarwal to maximise the powerplay overs.
“It’s going to be a toss-up right because Rohit Sharma unfortunately isn’t available for the team, so I believe they will have to go with Mayank Agarwal and Shikhar Dhawan. Shikhar Dhawan is going to be a consistent factor, but whether they opt to go with KL Rahul, who has again been in fabulous touch, is something that needs to be seen,” Bangar reasoned.
The final two matches of the white-ball leg will be played on Sunday (December 6) and Tuesday (December 8) at the SCG.