ENG vs IND: Through an Instagram post on Monday, the BCCI confirmed – intentionally or not – that Shubman Gill will be opening alongside Rohit Sharma in the Edgbaston Test versus England starting July 1.
This is after the incumbent opener KL Rahul was ruled out of the entire England tour, as reported by Cricbuzz, due to a groin injury that he had sustained ahead of the T20I series versus South Africa where he was supposed to lead the side.
Rahul’s injury and him missing the Birmingham Test – which is the fifth Test of the unfinished series from last year which India leads 2-1 – comes as a huge blow to the visitors as Rahul was India’s second-highest scorer in the four Tests, with 315 having struck one hundred and a fifty.
With 368 runs, including a hundred and two fifties, Rohit Sharma was India’s leading run-scorer in the four Tests, only behind England’s Joe Root, who amassed 564 runs and who has been batting on another level to others since the start of 2021.
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Shubman Gill And Rohit Sharma To Open For India
Rahul, indeed, however, was lucky to get the opportunity: Shubman Gill, in fact, was the first-choice opener then, and had opened along with Rohit in the World Test Championship final vs New Zealand where he scored 28 and 8 but was then ruled out of the England series due to injury. After Gill’s injury, it was Mayank Agarwal who was set to open but suffered a concussion in the nets before the first Test which paved the way for Rahul to play and he grabbed his chances with both hands.
Now, it’s all back to where India were, in terms of opening combination, about a year ago: Gill slotted to open with Rohit after Rahul is ruled out for injury and Agarwal has been dropped.
But is it the right move?
Rohit and Gill opened together for the first time in Australia in Sydney and Brisbane in those two epic, memorable matches with the latter even playing a crucial 91-run knock in the Gabba victory. Both matched each other with elegance to elegance, pull shot to pull shot, intent to intent.
They continued this good bonding at the home series versus England where both showed exceptional play on turning, and gripping surfaces before injuries and rest broke their pair.
Gill made a decent comeback to Test cricket a fifty and two scores in the 40s vs New Zealand at home.
The main selection dilemma for the management remains whether they would want the in-form Pujara back. If so, could he have replaced Gill at the top and opening – for Pujara has long batted in the early overs on overseas tours when India lost an early wicket.
Pujara was dropped for the Sri Lanka Test at home after his ordinary form for over a year. Not picked up in the IPL, Pujara went to County cricket and piled up runs on runs – 720 runs in eight innings for Sussex – including four centuries – at a stunning average of 120 and it would be really difficult for the management to not include him in the eleven at Edgbaston given his form and numbers in those very conditions.
But could they ponder dropping Hanuma Vihari then? The ma, n who replaced Pujara at number 3 in the Sri Lanka Tests where he registered scores of 58, 31 and 35. But it would really harsh on Vihari to be dropped after only one series in a new position.
At this point, it feels like India will have to make the tough decision of leaving out either Pujara or Vihari with the latter likely to hold on to his spot as Gill has been confirmed to open with Rohit.
And it makes sense to keep Gill at the top considering the future of Indian cricket. But the young opener needs to make his chances count with big and match-winning scores because others – not least his former under-19 teammate Prithvi Shaw – are breathing down his neck for the role.
India’s predicted playing XI:
Rohit Sharma (C), Shubman Gill, Hanuma Vihari, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin/Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
India’s Test squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain) Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant (wk), KS Bharat (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohd Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Prasidh Krishna