5 backup openers India should consider for ODIs

Namrath Kadiyala

Prithvi Shaw

India were knocked out of the 2019 World Cup by New Zealand in the semi-final. India was reduced to 5/3 chasing a modest score of 240. While the deliveries to dismiss Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were outstanding, the ball to dismiss KL Rahul was just a normal delivery. Hence, he drew a lot of flak for the way he was dismissed at a time when India needed him the most.

His ability to negotiate swing bowling and temperament against the stronger oppositions has come under the scanner. He failed to score runs against the SENA oppositions and could only manage scores of 26, 11*, 0 and 1 against them. Even in the warm-up game against New Zealand, he struggled to get going and was dismissed for a single digit score.

Although he is considered to be an aggressive batsman, his strike rate of 75 will also raise concerns for the team management. Even in the IPL, he had a fairly sub-par strike rate during his first 20-25 balls.

With KL Rahul failing to deliver against big teams, India would look to consider a few other players as backup options and here's a look at 5 players.

#5 Ruturaj Gaikwad

Ruturaj Gaikwad

Ruturaj Gaikwad is still an unknown commodity and is a left-field choice considering the other players on the list. He is only 22 years of age and isn't a fully developed player. However, he has shown that he has the talent and has been impressive for India 'A'. He scored 470 runs in 4 innings against Sri Lanka 'A' at a strike rate of 129.83.

The right-handed batsman has scored 1936 runs in 36 innings at a strike rate of 100.93 and has a superb average of 56.97. He has also been impressive for Maharashtra in the domestic circuit over the last 2 years and has plundered runs across all formats. He scored 365 runs in 8 innings at an average of 45.62 and had a strike rate of 90.12.

An aggressive batsman, he could establish himself as a key player for India in the future and will definitely get a chance with CSK as an opener after Ambati Rayudu's retirement.

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#4 Prithvi Shaw

Prithvi Shaw

Prithvi Shaw is destined for success and has shown enormous talent in the IPL and for the Indian team. He has already made his national debut and marked the occasion with a stunning century. He has played 2 Test matches for India against the West Indies, but he is yet to play an ODI.

He has scored 1065 runs in 26 innings at an average of 40 and has a strike rate of 114 in his short List A career. He is a highly aggressive batsman and is regarded as a mixture of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag. However, his technique isn't fully developed and that is something that needs to be considered.

He is widely considered as India's next big thing and selectors could decide to nurture him with the A team, or get him in at the age of 19 to deputize for Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.

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#3 Shubman Gill

Shubman Gill

Shubman Gill also emerged out of the same batch of U19 cricketers as Prithvi Shaw, and made his debut a couple of months after Shaw. He played a couple of ODI's for India in New Zealand and failed to impress. However, he is a natural talent and can take over from Virat Kohli in the future.

Gill has a sound technique and has the ability to negate swing bowling. The KKR batsman is a free-flowing batsman, but can also hold up one end and allow his partners to attack, something many of the modern-day youngsters can't do. He has scored 1796 runs in 44 innings at an average of 46.05 to go with a strike rate of 85.6.

He won the emerging player award in the 2019 IPL, further showing the talent he possesses. With the immense potential that he carries with him, he could force his way into the Indian squad. Additionally, he can also bat in the middle order.

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#2 Mayank Agarwal

Mayank Agarwal

Mayank Agarwal received a call up to the Indian World Cup squad as a replacement for the injured Vijay Shankar. However, he didn't play a single game in the tournament as India had a settled lineup despite injuries. He has been on the fringes of a national call up over the past 12-18 months and was selected as Prithvi Shaw's replacement for the Test series in Australia after the latter was injured.

He was quite impressive in the 2 games he played and showed a lot of substance. He has scored 3605 runs in 75 innings in List A cricket at an average of 49 and has a strike rate in excess of 100. The 28-year-old is yet to represent India in an ODI but could be backed by the management as a backup for Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.

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#1 Ajinkya Rahane

Ajinkya Rahane

Ajinkya Rahane could make a comeback into the Indian ODI squad as a backup opener. He functioned a dual role for India as a backup opener and first-choice No.4 for 2-3 years, before being dropped in an unfair manner. He scored 7 half-centuries and 1 century in his last 11 innings as an opener, before being axed for a mediocre performance at No.4.

He is a highly experienced campaigner having played in more than 150 games for India. He has scored 2962 runs in 87 innings at an average of 35.26 and has a strike rate of 79. While he has been criticized for his slow strike rate, he showed signs of improvement in the 2019 IPL as went about his business with a strike rate of 139.

With India in need of a backup opener and a No.4, Rahane could once again perform the dual role, which would allow them to have an extra player in another department.

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