Hardik ends ‘Kishan vs Rahul’ debate as IND captain names Gill’s opening partner | Cricket

Hosts Team India will miss the services of their charismatic leader in the 1st One Day International (ODI) against Australia as Rohit Sharma is unavailable for the series opener due to family commitments. In the absence of the veteran opener Rohit, vice-captain Hardik Pandya will lead the Virat Kohli-starrer side as India are all set to resume its preparations for the ODI World Cup.

Hardik Pandya has confirmed that the Rohit Sharma-less side will have a new opening pair(AP-PTI)
Hardik Pandya has confirmed that the Rohit Sharma-less side will have a new opening pair(AP-PTI)

For the first time in his glittering white-ball career, all-rounder Pandya will lead the Indian side in the 50-over format. Pandya has been India’s regular T20I captain in the absence of all-format captain Rohit. The white-ball maverick had replaced opener KL Rahul as India’s vice-captain in the limited-overs format after the T20 World Cup.

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Speaking to reporters at the traditional press conference ahead of the 1st ODI between India and Australia, stand-in skipper Pandya confirmed that superstar Ishan Kishan and an in-form Shubman Gill will open the innings for the hosts. Pandya’s India will lock horns with Steve Smith’s Australia in the 1st ODI of the three-match series at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.

“Ishan and Shubman will be opening the innings. The wicket looks how it does throughout the year. I have been playing here for almost seven years. It is going to be challenging because this wicket will give equal opportunities to both the sides,” Pandya told reporters.

Fresh from a sublime century in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2023, opener Gill is set to spearhead Team India’s formidable batting order with Kohli, who recently ended his Test century drought against Australia. India opener Gill has registered three centuries in six ODIs. India’s highest ODI run-getter in the 2022/23 season, opener Gill has smashed 755 runs for the Men In Blue.

India have been exceptional in bilateral series but the Asian giants have struggled to end their title drought in the recent ICC events. India suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of eventual winners England in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup last year. Before meeting Australia in the ODI series, Team India had punched their tickets for the final of the ICC World Test Championship.

“I don’t think we have tried anything new. We will be trying to be a little brave which I think in the last couple of series we have done quite well. All these bilaterals are as challenging, they can get as close to the wire as they can. That is the only way we are going to learn and start playing under pressure of knockouts (in ICC tournaments). (But) we don’t need to look at that right now, the past is past and we are hoping for the best things to come,” Pandya added.

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