India will take on Zimbabwe in a three-match ODI series, which begins on Thursday (August 18). Players like Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan will get an opportunity to once again display their mettle with the ODI World Cup in less than a year’s time.
The series will also mark the return of KL Rahul and Deepak Chahar, who have been out of action for several months due to injuries.
Ahead of the first ODI, veteran batter Robin Uthappa believes that Rahul would like to get "miles under his shoes" as he is returning from injury. Therefore, he feels it is highly unlikely to see Shubman Gill open the batting.
The veteran cricketer also showered praise on Shikhar Dhawan for his contributions as one of the Indian team's cornerstones in the 50-over format.
"I actually don't see Shubman opening in this series, that's what I feel. My personal feeling is that he might bat at No.3 given how he has performed in West Indies but I think the team management is keeping a couple of things in mind. One is the T20 World Cup coming up and the second is the 50-over World Cup coming up next year. I think Shikhar has been one of our main stalwarts in the 50-over format over the last 7-8 years. He has done exceptionally well," he said while replying to a NDTV question during a select media interaction organized by Sony Sports Network.
"He has got the most number of 100s after Virat and Rohit. And he is right up there, Shikhar walks into that opening slot as far as ODIs are concerned. You can tell with how he is batting that he knows his game well. For me, Shikhar would open the batting along with Rahul. KL is playing after a 90-day break, it is important that he gets some time under his wings, and gets some miles under his shoes so to speak. And get back into the groove because we have the Asia Cup coming up in 10 days' time so he wanted to be up and ready for that. We know what KL Rahul can do when he is fit and is in his groove," he added.
In response to a question about who would be chosen as the wicketkeeper—Sanju Samson or Ishan Kishan—Uthappa said that the former should be given more preference given his impressive form.
"I think Sanju Samson would be a better bet given the kind of form he has been in. Just the way he has performed and the potential he has got, we used to talk about Sanju's potential in the past and him not playing up to his potential. But we have seen in the recent past, how he has played to his potential when he has got the opportunity."
"Given that, he needs to get a longer run. And taking nothing away from Ishan, when Sanju gets a longer run, you will definitely find a player for the future in him," he opined.
On being asked about Virat Kohli taking a break from this series, the CSK batter said that the former captain might benefit from the break and come back in better shape.
"See, there are just two choices, either you take a break or you dive deeper into it. I think, for the last couple of years, he has tried both. It's his call and he believes perhaps, taking a break might be better for him. Sometimes taking a break can unclutter your mind and help you just reset or gives you time to think deeply about what's going wrong. And maybe that's why he has decided to take a break."
"But whatever the reason, I feel Virat being Virat and him serving the country as he has and giving us the pleasure of his performances, we should trust his call and allow him to figure out his own batting. When he performed the way he performed, he figured out how to perform at that level with that intensity. I think he just has to find his feet as far as structure changing within the team, relieving him of the captaincy and playing just as a player. It is a huge change for someone like him who has led the team for such a long period and led the team in such a different way. The dynamics have changed now, I think we need to trust him and trust that he will come back with a bang," he remarked.
(NDTV AND SONY SPORTS INPUTS)