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"We're certainly opening with Rohit and Jaiswal": Rahul Dravid ahead of India's T20I clash against Afghanistan

Mohali: Head coach Rahul Dravid said that captain Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal are India's first-choice openers for now as Men in Blue gear up for the T20I series opener against Afghanistan without the batting stalwart Virat Kohli.
The T20I series between India and Afghanistan will kick off on January 11 in Mohali; the second game will be played on January 14 in Indore; and the series will conclude on January 17 in Bengaluru. With Kohli unavailable for the first T20I, Shubman Gill could slot in at No. 3. Dravid confirmed that Rohit will be partnered by Jaiswal at the top of the order. Jaiswal joined the team after an outstanding IPL 2023 season in which he finished seventh in terms of runs scored, with 625. What set him apart from other Indian openers was his staggering strike rate of 163.61.
"As of now, We're certainly opening with Rohit and Jaiswal. 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," Dravid said in a pre-match press conference.
Dravid also stated that workload management was the reason behind the absence of Test stars Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Ravindra Jadeja and clarified that Ishan Kishan was not yet available for selection. "Ishan Kishan was not available for selection. Ishan requested for a break [while] in South Africa - 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," he said. "And certainly in Shreyas Iyer's case, there was 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," Dravid said.
Afghanistan will be missing Rashid Khan for this series as he recovers from back surgery. However, they still had a powerful spin assault that included Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Qais Ahmed, Noor Ahmed, and Sharafuddin Ashraf, and Dravid was excited about the task India's batsmen would face. "We know they have got some really good spinners. 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," Dravid said. These three T20Is will be the last India play ahead of the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean Islands and USA.

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