Australia vs India 2018-19: Analyzing the options for openers in the Test series
The Indian team management will have a lot of subjects to address before gearing up for the important Australia Tests. One of those subjects would be regarding the openers throughout the Test series.
After Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan got axed from the Indian Test team, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, and Mayank Agarwal are the three opening alternatives for India in the two-match Test series against the Windies. However, Murali Vijay has shown great form in county cricket and looks determined to make a comeback in the Indian team.
The young superstar, Prithvi Shaw, has made a grand entry in the Test arena with a quick knock of 134 runs, facing just 154 deliveries. The 18-year-old demonstrated his predominant backfoot stroke-play in his debut innings. The young lad looks destined to succeed in the most prestigious format of the game and should continue for nearly two decades in the Test arena.
However, he has not cemented his spot yet-so-far. It'd be interesting to see if he will be given a chance in the second test or not, as Mayank Agarwal was unlucky not to debut for India in the first Test.
Excluding Shikhar Dhawan, who hasn't put forward any step to make a comeback in the team, India have four alternatives for the opening position, i.e. KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Prithvi Shaw, and Mayank Agarwal. Choosing just two out of these four fine players will be a huge task for the management.
With Prithvi Shaw smashing his debut ton in the first test, he shouldn't be replaced by anyone for the next test. Similarly, removing KL Rahul for just one failure after a superb knock would also be unfair. So, if Mayank Agarwal doesn't get an opportunity in any of the test matches, he may not get his debut opportunity in Australia.
The openers India can play
India are likely to choose KL Rahul and Prithvi Shaw as their openers in Australia. It's not a good tactic to change the openers in every match. So, if KL and Shaw are chosen for the Windies Tests, they could be the opening pair in the Australia tests as well.
Rahul is talented and fluent stroke-maker, but highly inconsistent. However, India would still want to invest in him for some time, as he had scored a brilliant century in England in the final test. Rahul also scored a century in Australia in 2015 at Sydney.
On the other hand, no doubt Prithvi Shaw will get a long run. Former cricketers including Sachin Tendulkar have applauded for this young prodigy, and he has done nothing wrong yet-so-far to get removed from the team. A good performance in the second inning of the first test would strengthen his case.
To sum up, KL Rahul and Prithvi Shaw could be the openers who'll open for India in the four-match Test series against Australia in Australia.
The openers India should play
So, one of the openers India should play is Prithvi Shaw. There's nothing to talk against him and his gameplay. He has sealed his spot for the Australia Tests now.
However, the major issue to address is finding out the other opener. For me, the second opener should be Murali Vijay. Murali Vijay has given some fine performances in County cricket and looks determined to make a huge comeback in the Indian Test side. Murali Vijay's experience in the top of the order would also help Prithvi Shaw at the other end. Plus, Murali Vijay's only worry in recent past has been swing, which he won't find much in Australian conditions.
Handing a debut to Mayank in a very important Test series could be a gamble India won't prefer doing. Dhawan has done nothing to strengthen his case in the team. KL Rahul needs to score huge in the remaining innings of the Windies series to cement his spot. Still, I'd prefer experience with good performances recently.
Thus, Shaw and Vijay are the two openers India should play for the Australia Tests.