Kris Srikkanth has reiterated that it’s time India should back KL Rahul as the first-choice opener in T20Is alongside Rohit Sharma and look beyond Shikhar Dhawan.

This is not the first time that Srikkanth, an opener himself during his playing days, has suggested Rahul to open in the shortest format. In November, after India’s defeat to Bangladesh in Delhi T20I, he had questioned Dhawan’s ability to shift gears, saying failure to do so was hurting the team.

Dhawan isn’t part of the West Indies T20Is as he’s recovering from an injury.

Now, ahead of the series opening T20I against West Indies on Friday, he has again backed Rahul. “The hosts (India) …. need to slot KL Rahul firmly as an opener and look beyond Dhawan,” Srikkanth wrote in his column for The Times of India. “The need of the hour is instant firepower and that’s one area where India are lacking. Of course, there is (Virat) Kohli and other talents to make up but that might not be enough on the big day, as the team has found out in many ICC tournaments over the last few years.”

The three-match T20Is against the West Indies will be India’s third such series in four months at home starting with the South Africa in September. While the South Africa one ended one-all, India won the following against Bangladesh 2-1.

With less than a year remaining for the ICC T20 World Cup, Srikkanth, who played 43 Tests and 146 ODIs, feels the Windies series is a good opportunity for the hosts to test themselves.

“The T20 World Cup is a good 10 months away but a series against West Indies should be a good test for this strong Indian team. Hopefully, it will show India areas that require improvement. The recent loss to Bangladesh was an eye opener in many ways. No team can be taken lightly in this format. All it requires is one massive individual effort to win the day,” he wrote.

He added, “In Virat Kohli and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s return, India find themselves almost back to full strength. Once Bumrah is back in the mix, the team should be in a fair position to decide the World Cup squad, barring injuries. The bowling unit is almost at full tilt and with (Ravindra) Jadeja coming back, I see good competition among spinners and that should augur well for the captain. Fielding is another area that this unit has improved massively and in more ways than one this series should be the start of a good build up to the main event.”