Vice-captain Shikhar Dhawan said that KL Rahul’s return is very good news as the right-handed opener was recently passed fit and named captain to lead India in Zimbabwe in a three-match ODI series on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference two days prior to the commencement of the series, Dhawan – who was originally named captain but now named deputy – also spoke about the team’s preparation and on preparing against Sikandar Raza’s Zimbabwe.

“We don’t play that much cricket (against each other), but we have all the data,” said Dhawan on their preparations against Zimbabwe. “From there, we find out the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. I guess that is where technology comes in handy. In one game, you get to know the patterns pretty quickly. Even before that we use technology to get going with our planning.”

Zimbabwe are coming off a 2-1 ODI series win against Bangladesh and while India boast of great bench strength, they cannot be taken lightly, reckons Dhawan.

“It’s good they won against Bangladesh,” Dhawan said. “I’m sure they’re playing good cricket. It’s good for us, because it will keep us on our toes. We can’t take anything for granted or lightly. We’re here to perform against a good team. It’s always about the process.”

Although Dhawan was named captain of the squad initially, it is Rahul – who had been absent first due to an injury and later due to a Covid-19 positive test – who will be leading the side in the upcoming series. Additionally, Shahbaz Ahmed replaced Washington Sundar who injured his shoulder while playing a County game in England.

“It’s very good news that KL is back in the side,” Dhawan said about the skipper. “He’s one of the main players of the Indian team and with the Asia Cup coming up, it’s going to be a good outing for him. I’m sure he’ll gain a lot from this tour. It’s sad that Washington (Sundar) is out, it is part and parcel of sport. These things happen. Hope that he recovers soon.”

Dhawan faces competition for the opening spot with Rahul, Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad and even Sanju Samson in the mix, but the senior remained encouraging of the youngsters and the opportunities that await them.

“With more exposure, they’re quite confident,” Dhawan said of his younger colleagues. “Everyone’s different. They have good techniques. The transition for the Indian team has been great due to domestic cricket and IPL. Their confidence levels are high, that’s why they blend into international cricket quite quickly. They’ve been doing so well. We feel great that we’ve got so many options, so it’s a very healthy sign for us.”

Watch Shikhar Dhawan’s full press conference here

Quotes courtesy: PTI and ESPNCricinfo