3 opening batsmen who could replace KL Rahul during the upcoming Test series against South Africa
After his dismal performances in the recently concluded Test series against West Indies, it might be time for the selectors to look beyond KL Rahul.
Rahul currently averages 34.58 in Test cricket after playing 36 matches. He continued his poor run of form in red-ball cricket as he finished the recent West Indies tour on a disappointing note. Rahul managed to score 101 runs at an average of 25.25, with 44 being his highest score in the series.
He did show glimpses of form in the first Test where he got off to decent starts, but he failed to capitalize on them. His recent failures coupled with his unsatisfactory performances since the start of 2018 raise a few questions about his place in the playing XI. Rahul averaged 22.28 across 12 Tests he played in 2018.
It seems that Rahul needs a break from red-ball cricket. The selectors should look to give opportunities at the highest level to prolific run-scorers in domestic cricket rather than persist with an out-of-form player. That will also help Rahul, as he can grind it out in domestic cricket to regain his form.
In recent times players like Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari proved to be successful after they earned a place in the Test team on the back of impressive performances in domestic cricket. Following that trend, here are three players who could replace Rahul as an opener during the upcoming Test series against South Africa:
#3 Abhimanyu Easwaran
Newly appointed Bengal captain Abhimanyu Easwaran has been one of the standout performers in domestic cricket over the last two years. He has played 52 first-class matches so far and scored 4067 runs at an impressive average of 49.59 including 13 centuries and 17 half-centuries.
It seems like a matter of time before Easwaran gets his deserved opportunity, assuming he continues to perform with the same level of consistency.
#2 Priyank Panchal
Gujarat opener Priyank Panchal has been a prolific run-scorer in domestic cricket of late. His appetite for playing marathon innings bodes well for the opening role in Test cricket.
Panchal has played 87 first-class matches and scored 6186 runs at an impressive average of 47.22 including 21 centuries and 23 half-centuries, with 314* being his highest score.
Considering the struggles of Rahul and the non-availability of Shaw, it is distinctly possible that Panchal will get selected in the Indian Test team for the upcoming series.
#1 Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma has been in and out of Test team ever since he made his debut in 2013. That said, he has never received consistent opportunities at a single position in the batting order. Moreover, the emergence of Hanuma Vihari at the No. 6 position has made it difficult for the team management to slot Rohit in the middle order.
The right-hander has been in imperious form over the last few years in white-ball cricket. He had also been in decent form in Test cricket until he was forced to miss the last Test against Australia earlier this year. He hasn't managed to get into the playing XI since then as his replacement Vihari has been phenomenal in the middle order.
Rohit has played 27 matches and scored 1585 runs at an average of 39.62, including 3 centuries and 10 half-centuries.
Currently, only one spot is up for grabs in the Indian Test batting lineup, due to Rahul's extended struggles as an opener. Considering his experience and record in first-class cricket, the team management might give Rohit a chance to open the innings in the upcoming home series.
Rohit deserves a consistent run in the Test XI as an opener one last time before the selectors pass a final verdict on his Test career.