Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are India's regular openers. But in the absence of Dhawan, Rahane had opened the batting for India and hit four half-centuries on the trot in the recent five-match ODI series against Australia, which the home team won 4-1.
"He's (Rahane) definitely grabbed his opportunities as the third opener. As I mentioned there was K L (Rahul) as well competing for the (opening) spot. But Jinx (Rahane) has performed well, stood up and taken his chances.
"That's how the dynamics of a team work when you have four guys who play in a similar position and obviously one of them will have to miss out as only two can play in the XI," said Kohli at the pre match media conference here.
Kohli said he would not want Rahane to get confused by playing him in the middle order.
"We don't want him (Rahane) to confuse too much by making him play in the middle order because you need to find your game in ODI cricket. You need to understand how to go about things in ODI cricket and he has always been solid at the top of the order because of his technique and he likes playing there. It gives him freedom to go after the bowlers.
"So as I said we don't want to confuse him, he is in a happy space and he knows whenever someone is not going through a good phase or there is an injury, he is there, right at the door steps waiting to play a game whenever the team requires him to," said the captain.
Rahane, who made his debut against England in 2011, has played 84 ODIs amassing 2,822 runs with 111 as his best score.
Squads: India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, George Worker and Ish Sodhi.
First Published: October 22, 2017, 10:05 AM IST