Who should open for the Indian Test team?

Prithvi Shaw
PC: Times Now
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The Indian Test team is a fairly settled side, but a few positions remain subjects of big debates.

Pant or Saha? Ashwin or Jadeja? Vihari in the playing XI?

Captain Virat Kohli generally favours a batting-heavy side, with five specialist batsmen, a batting all-rounder, four bowlers and the wicket keeper. The charismatic skipper has done a fine job with this team, turning them into a winning machine at home, and a very competitive touring side (ignoring the New Zealand tour!).

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On most cricket betting sites around the world, team India are always odds-on favourites to win their home matches, while their odds on away wins are not as long as they used to be.

With Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, the Indian middle order is rock solid, but the openers’ slots remain very shaky. Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan manned the posts for a few years, but after a series of disappointing outings, India look to have moved on from those two.

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Prithvi Shaw
PC: Times Now

KL Rahul has also lost his position as first choice opener following a poor run of form that saw him score just 578 runs in 27 innings. For now, the frontrunners for the slots appear to be Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma.

Shaw made a fabulous entry into Test cricket. At only 18, he became the youngest Indian to get a century on debut when he blasted a ton against the West Indies in 2018, but his progress was curtailed by an injury during the Australian tour and a subsequent doping ban.

Agarwal has looked very assured in his fledgling career, scoring runs in Australia and piling them on in the home matches against South Africa and Bangladesh. 

Sharma’s is a very curious case. Before the home series against South Africa and Bangladesh, the ODI monster had endured an underwhelming career as a middle order Test batsman, but the decision to push him up the order showed early signs of promise as he collected centuries against South Africa and Bangladesh. He even helped himself to a double century in the process.

Despite his runs in the home series, the jury is still very much out on Sharma. Scoring runs at home has never been a problem- he scored 177 in his Test debut against West Indies in Kolkata in 2013- but grinding them out in foreign conditions remains the ultimate test.

While Sharma missed the New Zealand examination due to injury, Shaw and Agarwal huffed and puffed their way to respective half centuries. They did not exactly cover themselves in glory, but given that runs were at a premium for the Indian test team in a torrid tour, the rookie Test openers didn’t do any serious harm to their chances.

Agarwal has definitely earned an extended run in the team, but who should be his opening partner? 

When everyone is fit, Rohit will most likely get the nod ahead of Shaw. “Hit-man” clearly has problems with the moving ball, but then again, which Indian opener hasn’t had those issues in the last few years?

KL Rahul is still very much in the conversation. He is only 28 and is way too good a batsman to not get another opportunity to stake his claim. 20-year-old Punjab talent, Shubman Gill is also pressing hard for an Indian test team debut.

The Test openers’ slots are definitely up for grabs. Sharma and Agarwal are leading the chase for now, but if they fail to seize their chance, Shaw, Rahul and Gill will be on hand to pounce.