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Ajinkya Rahane is more or less out of the first of the three-match ODI series against visitors New Zealand at Mumbai IANS (File Photo)

Ajinkya Rahane had a decent outing in the recently concluded ODI series against visitors Australia. However, despite his subtle performance, Indian skipper Virat Kohli has termed him as the third opener. This more or less rules Rahane out of the first of the three-match ODI series against visitors New Zealand at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday. As a result, regular openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are all set to resume their roles on Sunday. Rahane, who had opened for India in Dhawan’s absence against Australia, had hit four half-centuries in a row to push Australia onto the back-foot. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs New Zealand 2017-18, 1st ODI at Mumbai

“He’s [Rahane] definitely grabbed his opportunities as the third opener. As I mentioned there was KL [Rahul] as well competing for the [opening] spot. But Jinx [Rahane] has performed well, stood up and taken his chances. That’s how the dynamics of a team work when you have four guys who play in a similar position and obviously one of them will have to miss out as only two can play in the XI. We don’t want him [Rahane] to confuse too much by making him play in the middle order because you need to find your game in ODI cricket,” said Kohli during the pre-match press conference in Mumbai, as reported by PTI.

“You need to understand how to go about things in ODI cricket and he has always been solid at the top of the order because of his technique and he likes playing there. It gives him freedom to go after the bowlers. So as I said we don’t want to confuse him, he is in a happy space and he knows whenever someone is not going through a good phase or there is an injury, he is there, right at the door steps waiting to play a game whenever the team requires him to,” he added. Kohli: IND focussed on playing good cricket against NZ

He also spoke on KL Rahul’s absence from the side for the series. “In this series, Dinesh Karthik has come in for KL. We felt KL, because he opens mostly, we don’t want to have a situation like Rahane was going through in between, having to play in the middle order forcefully because of what the top order was doing. We thought that it is better that K L gets game time in the first class level, so we have got in Dinesh, who has always played in the middle order and is more comfortable and aware of how to bat in the middle order,” said Kohli.

However, Kohli warned the Indian team to have a new balance in the side, as they prepare for the ICC World Cup 2019. “We need to bring in guys who have the ability and have done well in domestic cricket and India A, and track their performances and give them chances accordingly. We need to find our best bowling combination before we reach the World Cup stage,” he said.

“We always had in mind to bring spinners into play. We honestly did not think of playing the two together but they are so good together, it is tempting to play them in every game. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have played limited overs cricket for last 6-7 years regularly. These youngsters have stepped up and it creates a strong pool for us before the World Cup,” he concluded.