Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt has backed KL Rahul’s decision to open the innings in the one-day series against South Africa, which begins in Paarl on Wednesday. Butt described the move as a very positive one.
At a virtual press conference on Tuesday, ahead of the 1st ODI, Rahul confirmed that he would open the Indian innings in Rohit Sharma’s absence. Reacting to the decision, Butt said during a discussion on his YouTube channel:
“KL Rahul has said that he has played at different positions because the team needed him to. But now, in Rohit Sharma’s absence, he will open the batting. I think it is a good move. The team’s best players must utilize maximum overs in one-day cricket. I think it’s a very positive and right move.”
Speaking at the press conference, Rahul commented when asked about his batting position for the one-day series:
“I have batted at different positions in the last 14-15 months. But with Rohit not there, I will be opening.”
Apart from opening the innings, the 29-year-old will also lead the side. Rahul was named captain after Rohit was ruled out due to a hamstring injury, which kept him out of the Tests as well.
“I think India should play two spinners” – Salman Butt on India’s bowling strategy in South Africa
At the press conference, Rahul also hinted that India might play two spinners, since Paarl could offer some turn. Answering a query on whether the visitors should go with two slow bowlers, Butt answered in the affirmative and explained:
“I think India should play two spinners. Obviously, pitches in one-day cricket are good ones. But spin is India’s strength and South Africa are not renowned players of slow bowling. During India’s previous ODI series in South Africa (2017-18), Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav combined to claim 33 wickets in six matches. Definitely, India must go with this idea. South Africa’s batting is slightly inexperienced and India’s spinners can take advantage of the same.”
As for the pacers, the 37-year-old backed Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah to play all ODIs due to their extra pace and aggression. He concluded:
“India need to have both Siraj and Bumrah in the ODI team. They have the pace and their attitude is also different. All the others are medium fast pacers. In the T20 World Cup, they failed to make early inroads due to lack of pace apart from the toss factor. According to me, Siraj and Bumrah will be India’s two wicket-takers, who can create pressure.”
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The last time India played an ODI series in South Africa, they trounced the Proteas 5-1.