The responsibility of being the wicketkeeper-batsman in India's T20I middle order is in safe hands despite MS Dhoni's absence from the squad for the series against West Indies, according to stand-in captain Rohit Sharma. With Dhoni being dropped for the first time since he established himself as an India cricketer, Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik have the opportunity to lay claim to the vacancy.
"Dhoni has been such a massive player for us over the years," Rohit said on the eve of the series opener in Kolkata. "His experience in the middle, behind the stumps, will be missed but Rishabh and Dinesh are both keepers and they have a great opportunity to show what they are capable of.
"Rishabh and Dinesh have done well in T20s, whether it's their state side (Delhi and Tamil Nadu respectively) or their IPL teams. So it's a good time to test them. We can't go into the World Cup with limited resources so you need to keep options at hand."
Rohit was wary of West Indies in the T20I format. With Kieron Pollard and Carlos Brathwaite set to start for the visitors, the world champions are a different unit from the team that lost the Tests 2-0 and the ODIs 3-1.
"Not just Russell* and Pollard, but the rest of their team has also played a lot of T20 cricket," Rohit said. "They have their own league, they have more experience and it's a format they enjoy the most. It won't be easy.
"We need to understand their strengths and weakness, but the focus is on our team instead of theirs. I think they are a dangerous team. They still are defending champions in T20 cricket, so of course, they are one of the strongest teams in the world when it comes to T20 cricket."
India's squad for the games in Kolkata, Lucknow and Chennai includes the uncapped left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and the uncapped allrounder Krunal Pandya, while spinner Washington Sundar returned to the fold since his last appearance during the Nidahas Cup in March. Rohit said that resting and rotating players would help manage workloads and build bench strength.
"The balance is required, especially with the amount of cricket we play," Rohit said. "We need to see what our bench strength is. Resting players and giving them a break is also necessary, keeping the workload and the World Cup ahead, we need to take those necessary steps.
"And we need to see the guys who are knocking on the door, and what they bring to the table. Come the World Cup, we should be prepared, not just with the 15 players but also those that are outside the 15. Lot of new faces in the team. Shahbaz is coming for the first time, Krunal has been part of the squad but has never played yet. So it's important for us to also understand what's the best possible squad for the World Cup."
Eden Gardens has been a successful venue for Rohit the captain, having led his IPL franchise Mumbai Indians to two victories in tournament finals at the venue. Rohit said the intermittent opportunities to captain the side in Virat Kohli's absence had helped him grow.
"Captaincy has helped my game," Rohit said. "It brings a greater sense of responsibility because you always want to lead from the front. But having said that, I do understand that I'm a player first and then the captain, because my job as a player of the squad is to do well for the team. But without a doubt, it has helped me understand my game and my team-mates better."
*13.45GMT, Nov 3: It was learnt later that Andre Russell is injured and will not play the series