KL Rahul will be the man to open the innings alongside Shikhar Dhawan, after Murali Vijay was ruled out of the first Test against Sri Lanka owing to a hamstring injury.
If there was one batsman who had his place and position in the batting lineup nailed down, it was Vijay, and, unfortunately for India, the opener will not be fit enough to stonewall the Sri Lanka bowlers, initially, before going nice and easy in terms of boundaries later, in the first Test match.
Vijay picked up the injury on the Zimbabwe tour, and doubts over the opener's availability were raised when he failed to bat in both innings of India's only practice match against SL Board President's XI. Vijay was seen feeling his right hamstring during a net session on Monday.
With less than two days remaining for the opening day of the first Test, the team management have decided against taking a risk over Vijay, especially with enough replacement options available.
"He is still under recovery, not fully recovered, and we don't want to take a chance with weather like this and slippery outfield," India team director Ravi Shastri said.
Rahul and Pujara were the options available to take Vijay's place in the playing XI, and it looks like it will be the former who partners Dhawan for the first Test match, which starts on Wednesday.
With Rohit Sharma designated as the India No.3 for this series against Sri Lanka, it looked like Cheteshwar Pujara and Rahul would have to sit out the first Test, at least. But now, with Vijay's injury, a place has opened up, with Rahul filling it.
Rahul was always going to be preferred to Pujara, as the right-hander hit a hundred in his last Test match in Australia, before illness ruled him out of the one-off Test against Bangladesh, a match in which his replacement Dhawan hit a century.
Pujara has played at No.3 most of the time for India, and is not a natural opener, even if he has played in that position in the past.
However, with a better, more assured, opener in Rahul in the ranks, it makes more sense to give the Karnataka man the nod ahead of Pujara.