COLOMBO, Aug 2: KL Rahul�s imminent return leaves skipper Virat Kohli with an unenviable task of dropping opener Abhinav Mukund as India aim to clinch the three-match series against Sri Lanka with another resounding victory in the second Test starting tomorrow.
The selection conundrum is a testimony to the superb bench strength of the team. Rahul�s absence hardly affected the performance with India thrashing the hosts by 304 runs, starting the series with a bang.
Ironically, Mukund, who will be warming the bench, scored 81 in the second innings but just that his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan outshone him with a 168-ball-190, that set up the match and got him the best player award.
�KL Rahul has been our established opener. I feel one of the openers (Dhawan or Mukund) will have to make way for him because what he (Rahul) has done in the past two years for us has been very solid. He deserves to come back and start fresh in Test cricket again,� Kohli made his choice of playing XI pretty clear ahead of the match.
While Kohli did not explicitly mention Mukund�s exclusion but one could clearly read between the lines when he answered a question on his preferred choice between the two left-handers.
�I feel in a situation like this, you need to sit down and think which player has had more impact on the game. Who has been able to sort of make that difference in the game straightaway? It all depends on who has had a better game, to be honest,� Kohli�s answer made it crystal clear what exactly is his gameplan.
Interestingly, India had faced the opening dilemma even the last time they played here. Both Dhawan and Murali Vijay were out injured two years ago, and it was the young Rahul, playing only his second series, who opened with Pujara.
For the hosts, the task ahead is as onerous as it was in the first Test. The gap in Test rankings � No. 1 to No. 7 � highlights the gulf between the sides and the result from Galle has only widened it further. � PTI
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (c), Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga, Dimuth Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Danushka Gunathilaka, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Nuwan Pradeep, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Malinda Pushpakumara, Lakshan Sandakan, Lahiru Thirimanne.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Abhinav Mukund.
Match starts at: 10am IST