India cleared any confusion surrounding their team composition for the first Test against Australia by announcing their playing XI on Wednesday.
While wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha got the green light over Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw was selected ahead of Shubman Gill as the second opener for the pink-ball Test starting on December 17 at the Adelaide Oval.
However, speculation and selection headaches will inevitably resurface after Virat Kohli flies back to India after the opening Test to attend the birth of his first child. Not only will the Indian captain leave the critical No. 4 slot vacant, but the visitors might also have to tweak their entire line-up.
India, under stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane, could either move the current players in the middle order up a slot each before adding an extra specialist bowler to their line-up. They could even sandwich someone like KL Rahul or Shubman Gill in between.
In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, former India opener Deep Dasgupta opined that KL Rahul should come into the side for the Boxing Day Test. However, he stated that Rahul’s batting position would hinge around the number Rahane feels comfortable batting at.
“I will bring in KL Rahul. And depending on Ajinkya [Rahane]; if he is comfortable at number 5, if he wants to bat at number four, it’s up to him. So for me, it will be four, five Ajinkya and KL...If he (Ajinkya) is comfortable at 5, it’s fine. Depending on where Ajinkya will bat, KL will bat in the other position,” Dasgupta, who played 8 Tests and 5 ODIs, said.
‘I think KL Rahul can walk in straightaway,’ says Kiran More
While star batsman Rohit Sharma is currently undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine in Australia and won’t be available to play until the third Test in Sydney (Jan 7-11), all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was ruled out of the first Test with an injured hamstring and concussion.
Former India wicketkeepers Kiran More and Vijay Dahiya also tipped KL Rahul to make the playing XI in the absence of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. But whether KL Rahul plays as an opener or in the middle order – like he now does in ODIs – remains to be seen.
Kiran More, who served as the chief national selector from 2002 to 2006, spoke highly of the Karnataka lad and added that he can play both the roles to perfection.
“I think KL Rahul can walk in straightaway. Any batter who can bat in the top-order can bat in the lower-order as well,” More, who played 49 Tests and 94 ODIs, exclusively told Sportskeeda.
Even though he scored a meagre 57 runs in five outings on the 2018-19 Australia tour, KL Rahul registred a century in his maiden Test series when he scored a majestic 110 off 262 balls at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the 2014-15 season.
Delhi Capitals head talent scout Vijay Dahiya also cast his vote for KL Rahul. He further said that Rohit Sharma, once available for selection, can play both at the top and in the middle order.
“If KL doesn’t start in the first game, I see him coming back in the side till Rohit gets into the side...By then you will have four innings. So you will know who’s not doing well and you can slot him (Rohit Sharma) in those numbers as well," Dahiya, who represented India in 2 Tests and 19 ODIs, explained in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda.
“That’s the flexibility that you have with Rohit, how good he is when he’s opening or how good he can be when playing in the middle – especially in Test match cricket,” he added.
Rohit Sharma scored 106 runs at an average of 35.22 batting in the middle order during India’s historic 2-1 Test series win Down Under in 2018-19. Then, in his first series as full-time Test opener in September-October last year, the 33-year-old amassed a staggering 529 runs at an average of 132.25 in three Tests versus South Africa.
Published 16 Dec 2020, 16:23 IST