4 players who can be the long-term solution to India's opening woes in Test matches
Many congratulations to Team India for winning the highly-anticipated four-match Test series (2-1) on Australian soil. It was a complete team effort that made sure this historic victory under skipper, Virat Kohli. Though almost every player made a mark, India's opening woes were at the peak in the first two Tests.
Both KL Rahul and Murali Vijay failed to grab the opportunities they got to prove themselves in the whites. While Vijay was dropped after the second Test having scored just 49 runs in four innings, Rahul got another golden chance at Sydney to prove his worth with the bat. But, the Karnataka batsman scored just nine runs before returning back to the pavilion in the second over.
At 34, Vijay's comeback into the Indian squad looks highly unlikely given his recent failures. Meanwhile, Rahul is likely to feature in the domestic games to regain his touch and confidence before making the Indian Test XI once again. A strong foundation at the top of the order has certainly been the reason behind India's huge first innings totals in the recently concluded Boxing Day and New Year's Test.
To continue this trend, they must have good opening options. With India's ICC World Test Championship campaign set to kick-off just after the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, let us look at four players who can be the long-term solutions to India's opening woes.
1) Mayank Agarwal
Mayank's name has been on the Test radar for quite a long time. Though he got his much-deserved call-up during the Tests against the West Indies last month, he was unfortunate to be left out of the playing XI in both the Test matches. The Karnataka batsman dominated the 2017-18 Indian domestic season, piling on 2141 runs including an exceptional triple-century. His contributions for the India A side has been equally good in the past few years.
During three-match unofficial Tests against New Zealand A (played only the first two games), the opener made 42, 65 and 42 in the tough, windy conditions. Earlier, in the two unofficial Test series at home against South Africa A (two matches) and Australia A (one match), he amassed 375 runs that include a masterful 220 against the Proteas A side at Bengaluru. Though he was initially left out of the Indian squad for the Test series against Australia, he was later drafted in as a replacement for the injured teenager, Prithvi Shaw for the last two Test matches.
The 27-year-old made his much-awaited debut at the MCG during the Boxing Day Test match, scoring a sublime 76 (most by an Indian on debut Test innings in Australia) followed by a gritty 42 in the second innings. Mayank recorded another half-century during the rain-marred Sydney Test (77 off 112 balls) providing the much-needed start to India's first innings. In his three Test innings so far, Mayank has shown immense determination and has been regarded as the perfect opening option for Team India in the future.