New Delhi: Former India opener Virender Sehwag has put his weight behind K.L. Rahul to bat at No. 5, stating that the team management should persist with him as used to be the case under Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"If K.L. Rahul fails four times batting at No. 5, the current Indian team management will look to change his slot. However, same wasn't the case with Dhoni, who knew how important it is to back players at such positions, having himself gone through the hard grind," Sehwag told Cricbuzz.
Sehwag said when Dhoni was the captain of the Indian team, there was more clarity about players' batting positions.
"With Dhoni as captain, there was greater clarity with regards to each player's position in the batting unit. He had an eye for talent and had identified individuals who would take Indian cricket forward," Sehwag said.
"With the top-order finding it easier for a while in limited-over cricket, it is those in the middle-order who need backing from the captain. If you don't give players time, how else will they learn and become big players?
"I myself batted in the middle-order before opening and made a lot of mistakes, which even resulted in the team's defeat. But you don't become a big player sitting outside on the bench. Players need time," he said.
India won the home ODI series against Australia 2-1 and Rahul batted at No. 5 with considerable success. He also donned the wicketkeeping gloves in the absence of an injured Rishabh Pant.
The Karnataka batsman has been in good form of late and has shown signs of being able to bat anywhere, in the middle or top. India next take on New Zealand on the road in five T20Is starting January 24, which will be followed by three ODIs and two Tests.