“I want to play Shreyas at No. 3, Hanuma stays at No. 5” – Aakash Chopra on India’s new look middle order

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Former India opener Aakash Chopra wishes to see Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari in the playing XI in the absence of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane. The senior duo were not selected for the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka following a prolonged run of poor form with the bat. 

Pujara and Rahane held the fort for India for a long time as the backbone of the batting unit. The duo are not part of the squad for the first time since 2012, which allows the management to experiment in the longest format of the game as well.

Hanuma Vihari has been a backup option for the entirety of his Test career after making his debut in England over 3 years ago. Shreyas Iyer, on the other hand, made a promising start to his Test career with a memorable debut.

Chopra feels that both batters should be playing the first Test which leaves out Shubman Gill. The talented youngster made his mark in Australia but has struggled for consistency ever since. A major injury in England did not help his case and he is now being considered as a middle-order batter rather than an opener. Chopra said on his YouTube channel:

“Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari – quite obvious, you will go with six batters in which one will be Rishabh Pant. I will go with Shreyas at No. 3 but the team might play Hanuma at No. 3. I want to play Shreyas at No. 3, Hanuma stays at No. 5, where he is,”

Apart from his solid batting, Vihari could prove to be a part-time bowling option, which can come in handy in the subcontinent pitches. However, the track in Mohali has not been known to assist spin heavily as compared to other surfaces in India. Moreover, the IS Bindra Stadium is also Shubman Gill’s home ground, and as a result, he could be considered for selection as well from that angle.

Ravichandran Ashwin’s fitness is also a cause of concern for the Indian team. The off-spinner’s section is subject to fitness. Vice-captain Jasprit Bumrah had provided an assuring update regarding the fitness status of the veteran ahead of the Test.

Aakash Chopra’s India’s playing XI for the 1st Test: Rohit Sharma (C), Mayank Agarwal, Shreyas Iyer, Virat Kohli, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin/Jayant Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.

India will take on Sri Lanka in the first Test of the series which holds great importance to the ongoing World Test Championship cycle.

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