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  Sports   Cricket  16 Oct 2018  The opening conundrum

The opening conundrum

Published : Oct 16, 2018, 2:42 am IST
Updated : Oct 16, 2018, 2:42 am IST

Third opener is still a grey area for India ahead of Australia tour.

Openers Prithvi Shaw (left) and K.L. Rahul. (Photo: PTI)
 Openers Prithvi Shaw (left) and K.L. Rahul. (Photo: PTI)

Hyderabad: The Indian team management and the national selection committee will have to address few core issues when they decide on the Test squad for Australia, the primary concerns being a third opener and a second wicketkeeper for five-day games.

The net gains from the lopsided Test series against West Indies that concluded on Sunday, were youngsters Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant cementing their places in the XI for the first Test against Australia in Adelaide on December 6. But with the team management’s backing of KL Rahul, who has had 14 failures in 17 innings, the role of a reserve opener will become very important in the larger context of the series.

“I am sure KL will look at his errors and look to rectify them. There is no doubt about his attitude and how he goes about his game. He is very positive in his head and he is someone who also appreciates people telling him his faults which is a quality to have,” Kohli said after the second Test here which India won inside three days.

The skipper’s certificate seals the deal with Shaw-Rahul at least getting one more shot as a pair in Adelaide. But what if Rahul fails again? Currently, neither the team management nor the selectors have a clear idea about it. Mayank Agarwal, who was the third opener for the West Indies series, is a contender for the yet-to-be-decided squad of 17 that will travel Down Under. Agarwal has scored truckloads of runs but unlike Shaw, there are doubts about whether he has the game for the highest level and wherewithal to cope with Mitchell Starc’s disconcerting bounce, Josh Hazlewood’s ‘fourth’ stump attack and Pat Cummins’ quick deliveries.

It is learnt that selectors are still wary of having Agarwal, Shaw and Rahul as three specialist openers as the line-up will be too thin on experience. And Rahul’s poor form will also put pressure on the two youngsters. In that case, Agarwal might just be unlucky like his statemate Karun Nair as at least one experienced opener will be the order of the day.

In an ideal situation, it would have been veteran M. Vijay, technically the most accomplished Indian opener of recent times. However, Vijay’s failures in South Africa and England along with his much-publicised difference of opinion with chairman of selectors MSK Prasad will be an issue. But after being dropped from the Indian team, scores of 56, 100, 85 and 80 for Essex in the English County would keep him in good stead.  However, the first couple of Ranji matches will be a big Test for him. “I think it will be Mayank and Vijay opening in the New Zealand ‘A’ series where the better performer will be selected. I find it the most logical way of doing things. No selection committee wants controversies,” former India wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta said on Monday.    

Tags: australia vs india, prithvi shaw