Defending Champions Trophy holders, India have been dealt a severe blow even before the tournament has started as KL Rahul has ruled himself out of the tournament with a shoulder injury.
This is bound to throw the team combination into jeopardy and hence the hunt will begin for the next best opener in the country who could replace the Karnataka-lad at the top of the order.
Although, there are plenty of options available all around the circuit, replacing Rahul who was at the peak of his prowess will not be an easy task. However, both Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli will have to look ahead and find a suitable partner for Rohit Sharma to face the new ball in England.
The ongoing IPL can be a good testing ground and hence the selectors will have to keep their eyes firmly in position to look for options.
Here in this article, we take a look at 5 possible replacements for KL Rahul.
#5 Gautam Gambhir
Yes, the old warhorse pops up again and this is not because we love going back to the veterans. It is more to do with the fact that Gambhir has been in spanking form in the IPL and is coming off a fruitful Ranji season too.
He made a comeback into the Indian Test team and even got a half-century and by all means, the fire is very much kicking in his belly.
In 5 matches so far this season the KKR skipper has scored 196 runs at an average of 65.33 and with a strike rate of 142. Although the sample size is too small, Gambhir looks to be in fine nick and with his experience at the top of the order can be a real asset for the team in England.
#4 Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan shot into prominence with his breathtaking batting in the previous edition of the Champions Trophy, but so much has happened in these 4 years that he os not even a certainty in the team.
However, there are few who would deny his prowess and potential with the bat and also the fact that he generally does well in ICC events could coax the selectors to go in with him at the top of the order.
Dhawan did not have an entirely fruitful domestic season, but he has looked solid as an opener for the Sunrisers Hyderabad so far and if he continues to dish out innings of substance he could well make a comeback into the National team.
#3 Dinesh Karthik
The Tamil Nadu veteran has turned the clock back this season and has ruled all the three formats with the bat.
He dominated Ranji trophy in which he plundered 704 runs at an average of well above 50. He continued his form into the List A tournament where he amassed 854 runs in 12 innings at an average of 85.40.
He has looked the most assured of the Gujarat Lions batsman in the ongoing IPL and is timing the ball ever so crisply. This could be a slightly off-field selection but then he is the man in form and can be invested into.
#2 Rishabh Pant
The young man from Delhi has been the cynosure of all eyes everywhere around the cricketing circuit owing to his breathtaking abilities with the bat. After having smashed his way right through the Ranji season in which he scored 972 runs in 8 matches with an average of 81 he got a call-up into the Indian T20 side.
He has been in sparkling form in the ongoing IPL where he has been one of the most consistent performers for Delhi Daredevils despite the fact that he has not batted in one specific position.
Apart from possessing a wide range of strokes the 19-year old has displayed solid temperament and can be a great foil for Rohit Sharma at the top of the order and owing to his unknown factor can be the X-factor that the Indian team needs.
#1 Ajinkya Rahane
Rahane’s white ball career has not taken off when compared to his red-ball credentials and this is one case which cannot be explained. He has all the strokes in the book and also has the power game to be successful but for some reason, he has not established himself as one of the mainstays in the Indian ODI team.
However, he is once again looking in prime form in the IPL and owing to his tight technique he could be the number 1 choice for the selectors to partner his Mumbai pal Rohit Sharma in England.
With the ball expected to seam and swing around, Rahane could be a perfect candidate to blunt the new ball and along with Rohit can be a potent combination at the top of the order. Also, he is a safe catcher and be the slip fielder for India.