- With two of the opening contenders out of the squad, the BCCI wanted to recall KL Rahul who had stated that he will be available from the second ODI onwards.
- In his absence and both Shikhar Dhawan and Ruturaj Gaikwad down with COVID-19, Mayank Agarwal is expected to open along with Rohit.
Wednesday evening came as a shocker for Men in Blue as seven members including three players returned COVID positive leaving the team in tatters. Shikhar Dhawan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, and Navdeep Saini (Standby Player) were among the seven positive cases in the Indian camp. With two of the opening contenders out of the squad, the BCCI wanted to recall KL Rahul who had stated that he will be available from the second ODI onwards.
However, the Karnataka batter persisted with his plan and BCCI had to add Mayank Agarwal to the squad. But why did KL Rahul not join the squad? The opening batter, reportedly, will miss the 1st ODI due to his sister’s wedding. The India white-ball vice-captain is expected to join the squad on 6 February (Sunday), which means he will be available for the second ODI on 9th, after serving three days of mandatory quarantine.
Who will open alongside Rohit Sharma?
With one opening slot taken by Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul absent, Shikar Dhawan was expected to open alongside Sharma. But, since Dhawan and Ruturaj both are out, Mayank Agarwal will be partnering with Rohit at the top. Agarwal will enter the bubble on Thursday and serve the mandatory quarantine. He will then immediately slot into the playing XI.
Also, as per the government instructions, the three players (Dhawan, Gaikwad, Iyer) will remain in isolation for seven days. This means that they will miss all three games of the ODI series and India will have only five batters for the first ODI and six for 2nd and 3rd ODIs. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Surya Kumar Yadav, Mayank Agarwal, Rishabh Pant are the only specialist batting options available for the 1st game.
In that case, India will have to include either Deepak Hooda or Washington Sundar in the XI. Shardul Thakur will also be included to provide depth to batting. Deepak Chahar can also get a go-ahead.
India’s Probable XI for 1st ODI: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Virat Kohli, Surya Kumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Deepak Hooda/Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Prasidh Krishna, Kuldeep Yadav