"I can’t reveal the position he will bat at" – Cheteshwar Pujara confirms Shubman Gill will return to Test side

Cheteshwar Pujara (L) and Shubman Gill (R) during their 114-run stand during the famous Gabba Test
Cheteshwar Pujara (L) and Shubman Gill (R) during their 114-run stand during the famous Gabba Test
Srinjoy  Sanyal

India batter Cheteshwar Pujara confirmed Shubman Gill will play the first Test against New Zealand, although he refused to reveal his batting number. The two-Test series starts on Thursday at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur.

With regular opener Rohit Sharma taking a break after being in bio-bubbles for over four months, India have three openers to choose from in KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill. While Rahul cemented his spot after scoring loads of runs in England, one of Mayank and Shubman will have to bat in the middle order to make up for the void Virat Kohli, who is also on a sabbatical, has left.

Asked which number is the team management considering to slot Shubman in, Pujara refused to divulge details. However, he threw his weight behind the 22-year-old, saying he is well-prepared despite missing the England tour due to injury.

“Can’t reveal that at this stage. But see, he is a talented player and definitely he will be part of the team. So someone like him, you know he doesn’t need to worry too much, he has been playing good cricket for a couple of years since he has made his debut. It was unfortunate that he missed out on England, but he is a talented player, and I don’t think personally I will need to tell him much.
“Rahul bhai is there, he will give the best guidance. So I think he will just have to play his natural game. I can’t reveal the position he will bat at, but he is well prepared and I am sure he is looking forward to this series,” Pujara, who is the vice-captain for the first Test, said in response to a Sportskeeda query during a virtual press conference.

Shubman suffered a shin injury and had to fly back home even before the five-Test series against England started in August. He then put in the hard yards at the NCA and had a successful IPL campaign, scoring 478 runs in KKR’s journey to the final.

“All of us are looking forward to Rahul Dravid’s guidance” – Pujara on new head coach

The Rahul Dravid reign began with a 3-0 T20I whitewash against New Zealand
The Rahul Dravid reign began with a 3-0 T20I whitewash against New Zealand

India lost the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) final to New Zealand in June this year. The series against the Kiwis will be India’s first assignment of the second edition, and it coincides with the team management having undergone a makeover.

Cheteshwar Pujara opined that the young guns will benefit from head coach Rahul Dravid, who has a lot of experience working with the India ‘A’ and Under-19 set-ups.

“After the WTC finals, all of us were hurt knowing we lost in the final. But we came back strongly in England, we played pretty good cricket. Now team is back together, we are a confident unit, and yes we have new coach, Rahul bhai is there. So that will help most of the players, especially the young players who have worked with Rahul bhai during Under-19 and India ‘A’ series.
“And even someone like us, who are experienced players, I have played with Rahul bhai, I have worked with Rahul bhai during the ‘A’ series. So yeah, all of us are looking forward to his guidance. With the amount of experience he has as a player and even as a coach, that will help the team,” Pujara added.

Vikram Rathour has been retained as the batting coach, while Paras Mhambrey and T Dilip will preside over bowling and fielding respectively.

India Test squad: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Md. Siraj, Prasidh Krishna

Note: Virat Kohli will join the squad for the second Test and will lead the team.

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Edited by Sai Krishna


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