Manjrekar feels that India could go with Shubman Gill as Mayank Agarwal’s opening partner ahead of Prithvi Shaw and KL Rahul.
As for the wicket-keeper's choice for the Adelaide Test, the ex-Mumbai batsman has named young blood Rishabh Pant over Wriddhiman Saha.
Hanuma Vihari who, along with Pant, notched up a hundred in the second practice game against Australia A at Sydney, also finds a place at number six. Apart from being a gritty batsman, Vihari can also turn over his arm as an off-spinner.
The other players pretty much pick themselves for the Adelaide Test. Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane form a formidable middle-order. Some analysts have been rooting for left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav over experienced off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. However, Manjrekar has stuck to the latter as India’s main spin weapon for the Adelaide Test.
The pace bowling department in Manjrekar’s predicted XI for the first Test in Australia features Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, pretty much on expected lines.
Shaw vs Gill vs Rahul for opening slot in Adelaide Test
While Australia have been battling to find two fit openers for the Adelaide Test, India are also facing an opening conundrum in the absence of Rohit Sharma for the first two Tests.
Opening is a crucial position especially in Australia, as a poor start can expose the Indian middle-order to the dangerous Aussie new ball bowlers.
In the past, India have had disastrous starts to Australia tours, and that has set the tone of the series. The 1999 Test at Adelaide, when an unprepared Devang Gandhi and Sadagopan Ramesh stood exposed against the new ball and gave Aussies the massive upper hand, comes to mind.
And so, while Manjrekar has picked the talented Gill as his opening choice for the Adelaide Test, former chairman of selectors and fellow Mumbaikar Dilip Vengsarkar feels KL Rahul has an edge over the youngsters given his experience and form.
Vengsarkar told Sportskeeda’s Indranil Basu in a Facebook Live discussion:
“I would prefer to go with Rahul (as the second opener) because he is an experienced player. He has been in fantastic form. I am a huge fan of Rahul. He plays so well. If you see the way he has played T20 matches or any format of the game, he looks so assured, very confident. So I would go with Rahul.”
As for the wicket-keeping option, he picked Saha or Pant owing to the former’s superior skills behind the stumps. According to Vengsarkar:
“If you’re playing 5-day matches, if you drop one catch or you miss one stumping, you’re gone because every session is important. Here you have to convert even the half chances into chances.”
The Adelaide Test will be India's first pink-ball encounter Down Under.
Sanjay Manjrekar’s predicted XI for the Adelaide Test: Mayank, Gill, Pujara, Virat, Rahane, Vihari, Pant, Ashwin, Umesh, Shami, Bumrah