Credit: Twitter

Credit: Twitter

The 2023 World Cup is just a month away, and it seems that the Indian management has not learned from the 2019 debacle as they are again mixing up the team combination ahead of the grand event. Ishan Kishan played at number five for the first three matches at the 2023 Asia Cup, but former Indian batsman Suresh Raina has backed him to return to the opening slot.

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Kishan has scored 776 runs in 17 ODI innings with an average of 48.5 and a strike rate of 106.7.  In the middle order for India, he has scored 188 runs with an average of 37.6 and a strike rate of 78.7, and he has scored a strike rate of 125 while opening the batting. The wicketkeeper-batsman impressed with a mature 82 while batting at No. 5 in the rained-out Asia Cup opener against Pakistan in Pallekele on September 2.

However, Raina has maintained that Kishan should open for India despite his good performances at number five. “I always said that Ishan Kishan has to open because he is a strong character who maintains a good team atmosphere,” Raina told JioCinema.

The former Chennai Super Kings lefthander played with Kishan for some time at Gujarat Lions in 2016 and 2017. Raina remembered his time with the youngster, as he said, “I told (Aaron) Finch that if Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum aren’t playing, then Ishan Kishan should open. I’ll bat at No. 3, and you can decide the rest of the batting line-up. I remember in one match, he hit four-five sixes in Rajkot against Mumbai Indians, and the way he showed intent is what a team needs. Just like Rishabh Pant, who keeps laughing and maintains good team bonding, that’s what’s crucial.”

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Raina also recalled how former Indian captain MS Dhoni had asked him to keep an eye out for the youngster. “Since he (Ishan) hails from Ranchi, he spoke to MS Dhoni, and everyone wants to be like Dhoni there. Also, because of the way Ishan contributed to Jharkhand, Dhoni told me to observe his wicketkeeping progress,” Raina said.