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Fixing India's No.1, 2, 3 and 7.

by Naked Cricket

Leading up to the Pakistan match, Virat Kohli had scores of 9, 4, 3*, 8, 18, 5. Leading up to the Australia Test series, he had scores of 1, 8, 25, 0, 39, 28, 0, 7, 6, 20.

What next? Hundred in his first Test in Australia. Hundred in first World Cup match against Pakistan. It's as if he has the knack to edit one series from the other.

Almost as if in solidarity with his mates, Kohli too can be out of form; though with him, it could well be switching off from the game. At the Adelaide hotel, with far too many people around, he talks of switching off.

In the last four years, no Indian cricketer has been switched-on more. Kohli 's innings against Pakistan was more graft - he was far less flash than Dhawan or Raina, there was an acknowledgment of his lack of runs, to bat deep into the innings - that India wins far more often when someone scores a century.

Kohli has 22 ODI centuries. Rest of the squad has 27. Kohli has played 151 ODIs. Rest of the team have played, right, you get the drift.

Kohli 's attitude is both Dilli and Mumbai - there's way more khadoos in him than the Mumbai boys, Rohit and Rahane combined. Enough Dilli too, with both Gambhir's pangas and Sehwag's masti in spades.

Virat Kohli - From language to numbers

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After Kohli, nobody scores as quickly as Shikhar Dhawan in the team. Somewhat easy to forget as Dhawan's wretched run has extended through formats, continents and the dressing room.  Turning 30 this year, he's played only 13 Tests and 54 ODIs.

He may not play many more Tests, but continues to be the go-to guy in one-dayers. In spite of a low scores in the tri-series (2, 1, 8, 38) which were preceded by an indifferent Test series (25, 9, 24, 81, 28, 0); Dhawan was not tampered with - he opened in the World Cup warm-up games, scored a fifty versus Australia, and yet another against Pakistan.

He showed a readiness to scamper singles, rush twos; something which hasn't always been a part of his game.  

What has been a part though is a knack to score in clusters - this could well be the start of one such cluster. Previous to his bad phase, Dhawan had a rather good one - in eight matches, he scored one century and four 50s. In 2013, India won the ICC Champions Trophy in England. Dhawan scored 114, 102*, 48, 68, 31, all pretty much at faster than run a ball. Before that he had played only 5 ODIs, that too in 2010-11.

Could this be his third coming?

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Rohit or Rahane? Against Pakistan, it was Rohit. Was it another brainfade or at 34/0 in the eighth over, time to get a move on?

India won the match and if Rohit stays injury-free, he will open against South Africa. After six 100s (same as Dhawan but in more than twice as many matches) it isn't that obvious though.

Against Pakistan, Ajinkya Rahane, India's second choice opener, came in to bat at seven in the 50th over, after Jadeja but before Shami.

After a stunning Test series in England and an injury to Rohit, Rahane opened in the ODIs there - 41, 45, 106, 0. In the tri-series in Australia and an injury to Rohit, Rahane opened in the ODIs again - 33, 28*, 73.

Rohit did open in India's first match in the tri-series, scored 138. And then 150 on return from injury against Afghanistan in the warm-up.

Rahane's second hundred was also in 2014, as opener, and I suspect, Rohit was still nursing an injury.

Rahane opens for Rajasthan Royals, Rohit doesn't for Mumbai Indians. Going by the Pakistan match, Dhoni will prefer to play Rahane as he did Badrinath in CSK - early wicket, send him in. Need to accelerate, keep him on the bench.

But with no big hitters down the order, often this could mean underutilising both Rahane-the-opener and Rohit-the-finisher.

First Published in  daily O

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