Indian captain Virat Kohli has all but confirmed the opening pair and Mayank Agarwal’s partner for the first Test against Australia at the Adelaide Oval.
With Rohit Sharma ruled out of the first two Tests, there has been a lot of contention as to who will partner Mayank Agarwal at the top of the order.
In an ideal scenario, there shouldn’t have been a debate since the incumbent Prithvi Shaw scored a classy 50 in his last Test innings in Australia. But his poor form in the IPL made it a direct shoot-out between him and Shubman Gill for the spot.
Gill subsequently outscored Shaw in both the warm-up games and looked a lot more at home than the latter, earning huge plaudits from the likes of Sunil Gavaskar and Allan Border.
However, if Kohli’s statement ahead of the first Test is anything to go by, we might be looking at the duo of Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw strolling out to open the innings at the Adelaide Oval.
“Shubman has not gotten opportunities at this level yet in Test cricket, as and when he gets an opportunity, it would be interesting to see how he goes about things because he is a very confident young man. Prithvi has performed at the Test level but he would be playing in Australia for the first time. I think it is very exciting to see his progress as well,” Virat Kohli said at the press conference on Wednesday.
“Mayank did well here when he last came during the 2018-19 series. It is exciting to have young guys in the field, you can literally tell them to enjoy their skillsets in the middle,” he added.
India also have KL Rahul as a reserved opener in their squad. Rahul, who lost his spot to Rohit Sharma after a poor run in Test cricket last year, has been in brilliant form in white-ball cricket.
So, will India slot him in the playing 11? Virat Kohli gave indications that he might be benched, alluding to the balance of the team that gets bolstered with the presence of Hanuma Vihari at 6.
“It all boils down to the combination, KL Rahul is a quality player that is why he made his way back into the Test side, in the end, we have to see the balance and combination of the team. Everyone is playing well and everyone is feeling good, Hanuma Vihari has also been really solid, he is someone who has a great character, where Rahul fits into our team is a conversation we will have to monitor closely. We have to bring our best squad to Australia and whatever combination you go with is dependent on the conditions,” he said when asked about Rahul,” Kohli added.
As far as the wicketkeeper’s slot is concerned, it remains to be seen which of Wriddhiman Saha or Rishabh Pant dons the gloves in Adelaide.