Australia vs India 2018: Rohit Sharma to Open in Prithvi Shaw’s Absence?
Ahead of the much-awaited Test series against Australia, India suffered a huge injury blow, losing opener Prithvi Shaw to an ankle injury. The young batting sensation suffered the injury while fielding in the warm-up game against Cricket Australia XI and has been ruled out of the first Test.
Prithvi Shaw, fielding on the deep mid-wicket fence, caught CA XI opener Max Bryant just inside the rope and fell over while trying to keep the ball in play as momentum carried him beyond. In doing so, he ended up twisting his ankle while landing.
Shaw immediately fell to the ground while grimacing as India physio Patrick Farhart rushed to attend to him. The youngster was then carried off the field as he was unable to put any pressure on his left leg. BCCI later confirmed that he was taken to the hospital for scans.
The scans revealed a lateral ligament injury and Shaw will be undergo an “intensive rehabilitation program” to become available at the earliest.
At a time when both the teams will be keen to add finishing touches to their preparation, the injury is a big setback for the visitors especially when their openers are misfiring for quite some time now.
Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan opened for India in the first match of the recent five-test series in England but the duo were dropped following modest returns during the 4-1 defeat. KL Rahul, the third opener in England, survived the axe after posting a 149 in the final test at the Oval. But since then, he has fared poorly while Vijay is returning to the team after being dropped in England for the last two Tests as well as the series against Windies at home. On the other hand, Dhawan lost his place after the England tour.
Prithvi Shaw came in as a fresh breath of air, scoring a stunning century on his debut. In the following innings, he scored another fifty and registered two more fifties for India A against New Zealand A. In his latest outing, he scored a blazing fifty against Cricket Australia. No surprises then that India would be missing him.
It will give the team a hard time to zero in on a new opening combination. Vijay and Rahul are two specialist openers in the team. But given that Rahul is out of form and Vijay has not played an international game since the England tour and was also not a part of the team for the warm-up game, it will be a big gamble to put the responsibility of opening the innings on the two. India could rope in Mayank Agarwal as a replacement. However, Agarwal is yet to make his Test debut and is unlikely to open the innings.
Well, one name that India could consider is that of Rohit Sharma. Well, the very name raises several eyebrows because of his poor showing in Tests. However, given the way his career changed when he was promoted as an opener in limited-overs format, this is a gamble worth taking for.
Rohit Sharma’s career took a turn for the better when the Indian team-management decided to promote him as an opener. He justified the decision with a stunning show in India’s triumphant campaign in the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. He further enhanced his reputation with a stunning show against Australia at home. The right-handed batsman scored a staggering 491 runs in 6 outings which was ended with an exhilarating 209-run knock in the series-decider as he became only the third batsman after Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag to score an ODI double century.
In the last few years, he has become one of the best batsmen in ODIs and T20Is. However, his fortune in Tests has not been that good. Despite starting his career with two centuries in 2013, Rohit Sharma is yet to cement his place in the Test side. He was dropped from the Test team after the South Africa tour earlier this year and is making a comeback through the upcoming series.
Asking Rohit Sharma to open the innings is undoubtedly a very big call. But given his experience, his success as an opener in coloured-clothing and his talent, the Indian team-management could take the risk.
Earlier this year, he also stated that he is ready to open the innings if opportunity comes:
“Look, I have never been offered (to open the innings in Tests) yet but I am open to anything as in whatever the team management wants. I never thought I will be an opener in ODIs when I started playing or when I was playing for India. But it happened along the way, so I (want to) keep my options open. No option is shut for me, so if the opportunity comes, I will take it,” Rohit had said.
Well, Shaw’s injury could be a blessing in disguise for India as if Rohit manages to replicate his limited-overs form in Tests, it will solve a big problem for the team.