Opinion: Rohit Sharma's absence will not affect India too much
With the latest news of Rohit Sharma's injury filtering in, worry and tension have risen among Indian cricket fans, and rightly so. The vice-captain of the ODI team suffered a calf strain in the recently concluded T20 series against hosts New Zealand, and will fly back to India to be monitored by the National Cricket Academy.
This piece of news, although worrying, should not be too troubling for Indian cricket aficionados, simply because of the strong bench strength that they possess.
Mayank Agarwal had been named as his replacement for the ODI series against New Zealand, while Shubman Gill had been called up for the Test series. Mumbai's Prithvi Shaw had already been named in the initial one-day squad, and he, along with Agarwal, made their debuts in the first game of the three-match series against the hosts on Wednesday at Seddon Park in Hamilton. Although the duo got starts (20 and 32 respectively), they could not convert them to bigger scores.
Agarwal and Shaw's relative lack of experience in the ODI format is not something that must be read into much, as both have shown time and again, in domestic cricket and other forms of one-day representative cricket, that they possess the right technique and temperament for the white-ball game.
Shaw, in fact, marked his arrival in Kiwiland last month with a swashbuckling 150 against New Zealand A. Agarwal too, was in fine form, both in the domestic one-day and Twenty20 competitions (Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy respectively), which preceded the ongoing Ranji Trophy.
Also see - India tour of New Zealand schedule 2020
Rohit Sharma is indispensable to this Indian team, especially in limited overs cricket, but it is also the right occasion to test this new opening duo of Agarwal and Shaw. It seemed strange to not see either of Sharma or Shikhar Dhawan walk out to open for India in Hamilton but the replacements are equally capable of holding their own.
The Indian team hierarchy has been right in its thinking by allowing Karnataka's KL Rahul to continue to bat at number five and keep wickets. The Mangalorean has been in ominous form since the conclusion of the Australia series, and continued in the same vein in Hamilton by notching up an unbeaten 88 at Seddon Park on Wednesday. He can also be promoted to the top of the order in case the Agarwal-Shaw pair fails to impress, although few would bet on that to happen.Published 05 Feb 2020, 12:40 IST