The Indian selectors have decided to look beyond Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane for the Test series against their southern neighbors. Iyer is competing with Hanuma Vihari and Shubman Gill for the two middle-order slots vacated by the veteran duo.
During a discussion on Star Sports, Sunil Gavaskar was asked whether Shreyas Iyer is an automatic starter in the playing XI. He responded:
"One hundred percent, there is no question about it. Yes, he didn't play in South Africa, also he wasn't hundred percent fit. I think he had an ulcer in the tummy, so I am told. That's why he wasn't available for selection."
The former India skipper added that Iyer's batting position will be the only point of debate. Gavaskar explained:
"But with the performances he has had in those two Test matches against the New Zealanders, he will be feeling confident. It's just a question of where he is going to slot in, is he going to slot in at three or at five, that is something the team management will be having a close look at."
Apart from his exploits in the Kanpur Test against New Zealand, Shreyas Iyer will also carry the confidence of his recent Player of the Series performances in the T20Is against Sri Lanka.
"Out of Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari and Shubman Gill - only two will find a place" - Sunil Gavaskar
Gavaskar was also asked if Shubman Gill would be a better bet for India in the middle order rather than as an opener. He replied:
"With age on his side, he is somebody the selection committee and the team management will be looking at. But out of Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari and Shubman Gill - only two will find a place because I think India will go in with five bowlers."
The cricketer-turned-commentator doesn't see Gill making India's playing XI unless he opens the batting. Gavaskar elaborated:
"Shubman Gill is going to be in the mix but in the matches that he has played so far, he has opened the batting. So if he is not going to find a place as an opening batsman, I don't think he will play in the XI. It will probably be Vihari and Shreyas Iyer who will get the first opportunity."
Team India are likely to field Mayank Agarwal as Rohit Sharma's opening partner in the first Test against Sri Lanka. Gill will have to bide his time if he doesn't get a place in the middle order.
Q. Will Shubman Gill be part of the Indian playing XI for the first Test against Sri Lanka?
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