India captain Virat Kohli welcomed Lokesh Rahul's return to form and backed the batsman to push for World Cup selection with strong performances in the one-day international series against Australia starting on today.
A slump in form and a brief suspension for making inappropriate comments on a television show had threatened Rahul's chances of World Cup selection.
Yet he responded with scores of 50 and 47 in last month's two-match home Twenty20 series against Australia, which the tourists won 2-0.
Rahul has been given another opportunity to make a case for inclusion as a reserve opener or a number four at the World Cup in England and Wales starting in May and Kohli said the 26-year-old was on a "different level" at his best.
"It's difficult to find a consistent player, who can play good cricketing shots and still win games at a strike-rate of over 140 or 150," Kohli said ahead of the first of a five-match ODI series in Hyderabad. "It'll be interesting to see what happens in the final World Cup squad. Definitely, he's made a strong case for himself. It's good he's in great nick and hopefully he can carry it forward.
"We'll have to work out the batting combination to try and give game-time to guys we want to. But, I don't see the bowling combination changing."
Australia skipper Aaron Finch said regular wicketkeeper Alex Carey would take the gloves in Hyderabad after being overlooked for the T20s while adding that Glenn Maxwell, who scored 56 and an unbeaten 113 in the two T20s, could be promoted from number seven.
“His two knocks here were unbelievable... he'll get an opportunity a bit higher up the order, no doubt," Finch said. "Whether that's six, whether it's five - I'm not sure yet. But he'll get an opportunity a bit higher than seven."