India captain Virat Kohli said that Prithvi Shaw is “definitely going to start”, on the eve of the first ODI against New Zealand, confirming that the 20-year-old Mumbai batsman is in line to become India’s 230th cricketer in the 50-over format.
Shaw is just coming off a major roadblock in his young international career. After making a century on Test debut against West Indies in October 2018, Shaw was forced to forego the tour of Australia, after he twisted his ankle during a warm-up match. He was subsequently slapped with a doping ban, which meant his international career has failed to take off after those two Tests against West Indies.
Now, with Rohit Sharma out of the three-match ODI series against New Zealand, and the two Tests that follow it, the coast is clear for Shaw to make a return to the squad and Kohli said as much when he declared that Shaw, who is uncapped in white-ball cricket, will take the opener’s slot, with KL Rahul set to be groomed for the middle order.
"We are looking to stick to the same plan. KL will bat in the middle order. We want him to get accustomed to that role and keep as well," Kohli said. "We understand it's an unfortunate situation that Rohit can't be a part of this series. When you talk about one-day cricket and T20 cricket, and Test cricket now, he's one guy who's always on the list first. The impact he's had is there for everyone to see. But the thing is that we don't have any one-day tournaments to look forward to. It's, if anything, an ideal time for him to go away and rectify this as soon as he can and come back.
"He played the T20I series, so from the team's balance point of view heading into the World Cup year, it doesn't really hamper the combination as far as the T20s are concerned. And in one-day cricket, whoever steps in for him – Prithvi's definitely going to start – and whoever the replacement – Agarwal – is, we'll ask for an opener."
Kohli also dismissed any notions that India will look at the one-day series as an extension of the T20 format and approach it like they would a T20 game. "We have had five T20s already, it's not that we don't have a lot of T20 cricket,” he said. "We have IPL as well, which is going to be a month and a half of T20 cricket. So we will probably utilise that. IPL is probably the most competitive tournament you can ask for as a collective and guys will look to get into that frame of mind in that tournament and not this early in a 50-over format because you don't want to play in a different manner.
"You have to respect the format, you have to play according to the pace of the 50-over game. These things are all about creating good habits for different formats and then being able to switch between them. So no, we are not looking at this series as preparation for T20 World Cup. IPL is going to be the right platform for that."
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