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Suresh Raina backs Ishan Kishan to open for Team India

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Mumbai, Sept 11 (PTI) Former cricketer Suresh Raina has thrown his support behind Ishan Kishan’s potential as an opener for Team India, citing the 25-year-old’s strong character and his ability to foster a positive team atmosphere, a quality reminiscent of the injured Rishabh Pant.

The wicketkeeper-batter has impressed with a matured 82 while batting at No. 5 in the rained-out Asia Cup opener against Pakistan in Pallekele on September 2.

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But the lefthander, who opens for Jharkhand and his IPL franchise Mumbai Indians, also gives the flexibility to bat at the top of the order.

“I always said that Ishan Kishan has to open because he is a strong character who maintains a good team atmosphere,” Raina told JioCinema.

The former India and Chennai Super Kings lefthander had a small stint together with Kishan at the now-defunct IPL franchise Gujarat Lions in 2016 and 2017.

Raina remembered his time with the youngster, and how the wicketkeeper-batter brought camaraderie and team spirit to the squad.

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Recalling an incident, Raina said, “I told (Aaron) Finch that if Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum aren’t playing, then Ishan Kishan should open. I’ll bat at No. 3, and you can decide the rest of the batting line-up.”

“I remember in one match, he hit four-five sixes in Rajkot against Mumbai Indians, and the way he showed intent is what a team needs. Just like Rishabh Pant, who keeps laughing and maintains good team bonding, that’s what’s crucial,” Raina added.

Raina also remembered that MS Dhoni had asked him to keep a watch on the youngster.

“Since he (Ishan) hails from Ranchi, he spoke to MS Dhoni, and everyone wants to be like Dhoni there. Also, because of the way Ishan contributed to Jharkhand, Dhoni told me to observe his wicketkeeping progress,” Raina recollected.

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India have a set opening pair in skipper Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, both of whom have performed decently in the ongoing Asia Cup.

The current opening duo are expected to continue in the upcoming World Cup in India next month as Kishan’s chance to open in the format may have to wait.

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