Antigua, July 21: India Test captain Virat Kohli has backed the "dominating" Shikhar Dhawan over "solid" KL Rahul to partner Murali Vijay at the top of the order in the first Test against West Indies starting here today (July 21).
The four-match series between India and West Indies begins at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Thursday. And Kohli has hinted that he may pick his Delhi team-mate Dhawan over Rahul. (Not worried about selection: Rahul)
Karnataka right-hander Rahul impressed in the 2 warm-up matches, scoring back-to-back half centuries (50 and 64). However, he might have to wait for his turn in the Test rubber.
When Kohli was asked about his Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team-mate in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Rahul and team selection in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday (July 20), the captain praised the youngster but at the same time supported Dhawan's case.
"It is a very strange situation because in international cricket you need to understand one thing that you cannot count players out because of one series," Kohli said.
"If you are talking about KL Rahul, he has improved leaps and bounds as a cricketer in the last 3 to 4 months. He has established himself as the third opener for India. He is a regular in the Test side and played in Sri Lanka as well. He scored runs there. But that is one call you need to take as captain that is why the job is never easy," he added.
Kohli said Dhawan can dominate the Test match with his batting and cited the example of his quick century in Sri Lanka last year.
"The (team) management and captain need to take some hard calls at times. But it is for the players to understand that equal opportunities will be given. It is just that whoever starts the Test series has an edge over who has to wait for his chance.
"But you have to understand that there are 4 Test matches and you will get a chance at some stage. When I spoke about having more options, that is what it is all about.
"If you speak about KL Rahul and Shikhar, it is very difficult to take a call upfront in the 1st match of the series because someone Shikhar (Dhawan) is a very dominating player. He can dominate sessions and bring you into the Test match especially in conditions like West Indies. You saw how he played in Sri Lanka. He scored a very quick hundred but got injured unfortunately.
"You can't count out a guy like Shikhar because of couple of innings here and there. We need to give guys a decent run and know that if something goes wrong you have a quality player like Rahul waiting in the wings. He is as solid as anyone in world cricket right now and he will do a good job whenever he gets a chance," Kohli explained.
Dhawan has so far played 19 Tests scoring 1,308 runs with 4 centuries and 2 fifties. Rahul has featured in 5 Tests and has scored 256 runs with 2 hundreds.