Captain says top-order batsman, who missed India's Galle victory due to viral fever, is team's 'established opener'.
Kohli hints Rahul will replace Mukund or Dhawan in Colombo cricket Test
Fit-again opener Lokesh Rahul has regained his place in India's cricket team to start the second Test against Sri Lanka on Thursday, captain Virat Kohli said.
Rahul, who missed the first Test triumph due to viral fever, maintains an impressive average of 44.44 in 17 Tests for India.
India outplayed the hosts by a record 304 runs in Galle, with openers Shikhar Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund putting in strong performances at the start of the three-match series.
- Pneumonia-hit Chandimal gets inhaler exemption in Colombo
- Kohli in fix after Dhawan and Mukund find form in Galle
Speaking on the eve of the Colombo Test, Kohli made it clear that despite their stellar showing, one of the two openers will have to make way for Rahul, also known as KL.
"Obviously KL has been our established opener. I feel one of the openers will have to make way for KL," Kohli said of the 25-year-old player from Bangalore.
"What he's done in the past two years for us has been very solid, and he deserves to come back and start fresh in Test cricket again."
Shastri's thoughts on team's achievements
Dhawan hit a brilliant 190 in India's first innings in Galle and is expected to retain his spot. That means Mukund is likely to miss out despite a gritty 81 in the second innings.
Rahul, who has hit four Test centuries and seven fifties, played a vital role in India's series win over Australia in March despite getting injured during the first match.
"He has batted really well in the last couple of seasons for us. As I said, it is very important for us to make him feel that this is his spot," said Kohli, who gave no other details on the playing XI.
Top-ranked India are looking to seal the series at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground against Sri Lanka who will welcome back captain Dinesh Chandimal after a bout of pneumonia.
Indian coach Ravi Shastri has talked up his team's abilities, saying on Tuesday "a lot of big names have played for 20 years and they have come to Sri Lanka many times but they have never won a series. This team has done that".
India overturned a 1-0 deficit to beat Sri Lanka in 2015 and register their first Test series triumph in the island nation for 22 years.
India reclaimed the world No 1 Test spot from arch-rivals Pakistan last year.
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