Former India wicket-keeper Saba Karim has zeroed down on KL Rahul to open alongside Rohit Sharma in the first Test against England, starting Wednesday at Trent Bridge, after incumbent opener Mayank Agarwal was ruled out of the game following a concussion, which he sustained from being hit by a Mohammed Siraj bouncer while batting in the nets.
This would have been Agarwal’s return to the eleven replacing the injured Shubman Gill, who has returned back home. Instead, it is likely that KL Rahul will get to make his Test comeback after two years, despite being prepared for a middle-order role.
Saba Karim opined that Agarwal’s injury changes the composition of the side. However, as the former selector pointed out, KL Rahul has been in form – he has been in terrific touch in white-ball cricket and notched up a century in the warm-up match, albeit while batting at number 5.
“It is a very huge blow. It spoils the entire balance and your full preparation. You don’t have options left,” Saba Karim said while speaking with India News.
“I feel that KL Rahul will probably be given an opportunity as an opener because he had struck a century in the first-class match. So, you will have to make changes and make preparations different from your original thinking,” he added.
Another option is uncapped Bengal opener Abhimanyu Easwaran, but he is believed to not be considered at the start of the series. Hanuma Vihari, who opened in the MCG Test in 2018, could also be seen walking out alongside Sharma.
Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav will soon join the Indian squad in England. But owing to the mandatory quarantine period, both will be available from the third Test onwards.
Mohammed Siraj likely to start in the first Test: Reports
According to the latest reports by Cricbuzz, Mohammed Siraj is in line to play his first Test in England. After impressing on his debut series in Australia and then at home against England, the pacer was not picked in the WTC final versus New Zealand, as Virat Kohli opted for two spinners in the eleven – Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin.
Now, learning from the WTC final, where India seemed to be a seamer short compared to the Kiwis’ 4-man pace attack, a change in strategy is likely to be made with the inclusion of Siraj, who is a potent swing bowler and can exploit the conditions in Nottingham. The question remains: who gets the nod between Ashwin and Jadeja?