Rahul Dravid confirms Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal as openers for Afg T20Is

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“As of now, we will be certainly opening with Rohit and Jaiswal,” Dravid said. “But when you have a squad, you have to have that flexibility to do whatever is required if that is in the best interest of the team, and gives us the best chance to succeed. So nothing is closed. But certainly, we’re really happy with what Jaiswal has done as an opener for us, and he gives us a left-right combination as well at the top.”

Jaiswal came into the side on the back of an excellent IPL 2023, where he was the fifth-highest run-getter, with a tally of 625 runs. What separated him from other Indian openers was his whopping strike rate of 163.61.
More importantly, he has been able to replicate those numbers at international level as well. Since making his T20I debut, against West Indies in August 2023, Jaiswal has 430 runs in 14 innings at a strike rate of 159.25. And across T20s since the start of 2023, his powerplay strike rate has been 163.69. For comparison, Gill’s powerplay strike rate in the same period has been 138.44.

Kishan ‘not available’; Iyer dropped

Dravid also clarified that Ishan Kishan had asked for a break during this series, and that Shreyas Iyer was dropped. After the squad was announced, there was speculation over whether Iyer had been rested or dropped. Earlier this week, he was named in Mumbai’s squad for their second Ranji Trophy game, against Andhra from January 12. Dravid clarified there was no disciplinary reason behind Iyer’s exclusion.

“Ishan Kishan was not available for selection,” he said. “Ishan requested for a break [while] in South Africa – which we which we agreed to, which we supported, [and] which we recognised – and he has not yet made himself available for selection. I’m sure when he is ready, he will play domestic cricket and make himself available for selection.

“And certainly in Shreyas Iyer’s case, there was absolutely no disciplinary reason for his non-inclusion. There were a lot of batsmen in the team, and Shreyas Iyer missed out. He didn’t play the T20s in South Africa as well, if you notice, and it’s unfortunate. He is a fine player, but there are a lot of batsmen, and it is not easy to fit everyone in the squad and the playing XI. There are absolutely no disciplinary reasons, and that was not discussed at all – at least in my discussions with the selectors when they were having these deliberations and discussions.”

For this series, Afghanistan are without Rashid Khan, who is recovering from his back surgery. But they still have a strong spin attack comprising Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Qais Ahmed, Noor Ahmed and Sharafuddin Ashraf, and Dravid looked forward to the challenge India’s batters faced.

“We know they have got some really good spinners,” Dravid said. “So it will be a good challenge for our batsmen. We have discussed about it as well – how to play and dominate their spinners. So it will be a good challenge, and we are looking forward to it.”

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