With Rohit Sharma’s Team India set to play a three-match One Day International (ODI) series against the West Indies in the World Cup year, former Indian chief selector MSK Prasad has picked an Indian Premier League (IPL) star to challenge Shubman Gill for the opening spot in the batting lineup. At a time when former vice-captain KL Rahul slid down the order after an indifferent run at the top of the order, Gill has climbed up the ranks to cement his place as an opening batter in the Indian side.
Rahul is currently in rehab, nursing a thigh injury while Rishabh Pant is still recovering from the jolts of a horrific car crash. In the absence of Rahul and Pant, the Indian think tank has named Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan as the two wicketkeepers in the squad for the West Indies series. Sharing his views about how India can lineup against the West Indies, former India chief selector Prasad, who was also a keeper-batter during his playing days, opined that Suryakumar Yadav will spearhead the middle-order while Samson can even open the innings with skipper Rohit in the ODI series.
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‘The competition will be between Sanju Samson and…’
“Surya is already there, I don’t think there will be a competition between Sanju Samson and Suryakumar Yadav. Sanju is a top-order batter and Surya is middle order number 4 and number 5 batter. You never know you can also see Sanju Samson open along with Rohit Sharma. So I don’t think there’s any competition between Sanju and Surya, the competition will be between Sanju and a wicketkeeper-batsman,” Prasad told Khel Now.
The possibility of Sanju opening the batting for India, however, seems unlikely as apart from Gill and Kishan, the ODI squad also has Ruturaj Gaikwad as a backup opener.
When did Samson last play for India?
Retained by the selectors for the West Indies tour, Suryakumar batted in the middle-order for India against Australia in March. Suryakumar had capped off a disastrous series by recording three first-ball ducks against Australia. Bouncing back in style, the star batter regained his form in the 2023 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Suryakumar’s Indian teammate Samson last played for the Men In Blue against New Zealand at Eden Park in 2022.
The 28-year-old has only played 11 ODIs for India. Samson made his India debut against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club in 2015. Rohit’s Team India will play the first two games of the ODI series (on July 27 and 29) at Kensington Oval in Barbados. The third and final ODI of the bilateral series will be contested at the Brian Lara Stadium on August 1.
India’s squad for the ODI series vs West Indies:
Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Shardul Thakur, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammed Siraj, Umran Malik, Mukesh Kumar.