Opinion: Mayank Agarwal is not an ideal replacement for Vijay Shankar
Tamil Nadu all-rounder Vijay Shankar was sent home from England after being part of the Indian team for the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup after sustaining an injury to his toe. Karnataka opener Mayank Agarwal was named his replacement and made to fly out to England. Shankar has faced the wrath of the entire nation after scoring just 15* (Pakistan), 29 (Afghanistan) and 14 (West Indies) in the three matches he got the opportunity to be in the playing 11.
He was left out of the starting 11 against England due to a toe niggle and Rishabh Pant was called in to take his place. Now that Shankar has boarded the flight back home, India have decided to call up Karnataka's Mayank Agarwal in his place following a request from the Indian team management for a suitable top-order batsman.
However, millions of Indian fans had expected Ambati Rayudu to be named as the replacement and they have all been left disappointed. The problem this equation brings up is that India already have KL Rahul as an opener making up for the loss of Shikhar Dhawan and they have also named wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant in the squad, who is a fine batsman in his own right. Where exactly does the team management expect Agarwal to fit into this scenario?
With Rahul comfortable with opening the innings and India currently going through a rut in the middle order with veteran warhorse Mahendra Singh Dhoni looking out of touch and the others not being able to take up responsibility, wouldn't it have made more sense to pick Rayudu as Shankar's replacement? The 33-year-old is vastly experienced and has an average of 47.05 in One Day Internationals. Indian fans would like to believe that he would have been just perfect to solve the team's middle-order woes.
What India should also do again, as they did against Bangladesh at Edgbaston, is pick Dinesh Karthik over Kedar Jadhav. The latter has not really got an opportunity to bat at this tournament but Karthik seems to be the better finisher and all-round player. In this scenario, it is difficult to see how Mayank Agarwal was chosen ahead of Ambati Rayudu and why the Indian team management requested for a top-order batsman for Vijay Shankar's replacement. One cannot help but feel sorry for Rayudu.
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