India vs West Indies 2019: Options India can try out in the opening slot
After the World Cup, the Indian cricket team will be in the Caribbean Islands for a month-long tour, which will begin from 3rd of August 2019. They will play three T20 Internationals, three ODIs and two Test matches against the West Indies. The tour will begin with the T20s and the ODIs and conclude with the two-Test match series.
The schedule for these two West Indies vs India test matches are as follows.
1st Test: 22nd August - 26th August in Antigua
2nd Test: 30th August - 3rd September in Jamaica
India have selected a full-strength Test squad for this series, with no senior players being given rest. Overall the team looks very strong on paper, specially the middle order and the bowling unit. However if one has pick a weak link in this squad, it has to be the opening pair. In the absence of Prithvi Shaw Shikhar Dhawan, the squad has only two specialist openers, viz Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul.
After his impressive debut series in Australia, Agarwal will definitely be the first choice opener ahead of KL Rahul, who has been very inconsistent in recent years.But who will be chosen as the 2nd opener in the playing eleven, is the big question.
In this article we talk about the 3 possible options that the team management can consider.
Selecting the experienced specialist opener KL Rahul
KL Rahul has a good chance of getting selected as the second opener along with Mayank Agarwal, as he is the most experienced specialist opener in the Test squad.
However Rahul's inconsistency and vulnerability against good bowling attacks in Tests are a big cause for concern for the team management. He got ample opportunities in the last two years, but has failed to deliver consistently. It will be interesting to see if the team management still considers him first choice or opts for a new opening batsman.
Option 2: Promoting Hanuma Vihari or Cheteshwar Pujara to open the innings
This is something India did in the past with a reasonable amount of success when their regular openers were unavailable or out of form. In absence of Shaw, who is expected to be India's regular opener in Tests in the coming years, this makeshift option can definitely be considered. However these experiments are not a permanent solution for the present vacuum at the top of the order.
The Indian management can still opt for this option for the time being, as it could open up a spot in the middle order for Rohit Sharma and allow the team to play Ravindra Jadeja as an extra all rounder alongside Ravichandran Ashwin.
Option 3: Trying out Rohit Sharma as a Test opener
Rohit Sharma is presently one of the best openers in the world in ODIs and T20s. His ability to play the new ball with ease and score big runs at the top of the order makes him a strong contender for the Test opener's slot too. Rohit's Test-match career has been quite ordinary compared to his record in the shorter formats of the game.
As Rohit has always played in the middle-order in Test matches, it can be a good idea to try him out at the top of the order alongside Mayank Agarwal, in this series. If Rohit makes a mark as a Test opener by scoring big runs, then it will be a huge boost for the Indian Test team which has been struggling to find a formidable opening pair in Tests, especially away from home.