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in ODIs, says Sanjay Manjrekar 1st ODI: KL Rahul should not change his batting position

India’s KL Rahul bats during the fifth Twenty20 cricket match between New Zealand and India at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on February 2, 2020. (Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY / AFP)

India will play their first ODI match vs South Africa on Sunday, 17 December. KL Rahul is back in international cricket after a short break and will be leading India in the 3-match series. India have carried a young Indian side for the 3-match series and do not have the services of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, and Jasprit Bumrah.

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India will also have the services of Shreyas Iyer for the first ODI alone as the batter will shift his focus to the 2-match Test series. Should KL Rahul bat up the order in that case? Sanjay Manjrekar does not think so.

Speaking ahead of the first ODI match in Johannesburg, Manjrekar said that the batter should stick to his No. 5 position. KL Rahul has been fantastic at No. 5 in ODI cricket. Just in 2023, Rahul has scored 711 runs from 17 innings in the position, at an average of 64.6.

“You would not want to change KL Rahul’s position in the batting order. He has done superbly at No. 5 since the Asia Cup and then in the World Cup 2023. KL Rahul has all the abilities to be a consistent No. 5 and I think that’s how the team management will go,” Sanjay Manjrekar told ESPNcricinfo.

Rahul came back into the ODI fold after recovering from his torn tendon in the Asia Cup 2023. Rahul missed about four-five months of cricketing action and returned to play against Pakistan in the continental tournament. Rahul hit a century on his comeback and from there continued to shine in the middle order.

The batter spoke ahead of the game and gave confidence to the youngsters. Rahul said that the youngsters needed to feel comfortable in their shoes as India looks to transition in the ODI format of the game.

“I don’t think a lot will change in terms of how we want to play ODI cricket. There are a few new faces and to expect them to go out and play the role that Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli played in the World Cup will be too early. You have to give them time and make them feel comfortable. There’s no added pressure from my side,” Rahul was quoted as saying in the pre-series press conference.