In the absence of captain and opener Rohit Sharma, a maiden Test century by Shubman Gill in the Chattogram Test last week against Bangladesh has made matters complicated for the Indian team management.
For the time being, they don’t have to make any big calls because Sharma will also miss the second Test in Dhaka starting later this week.
Sharma had suffered a thumb injury while fielding in the second ODI against Bangladesh. Consequently, he missed the 3rd ODI, the first Test, and now has been ruled out of the second Test too. This means that Shubman Gill will open alongside KL Rahul in Dhaka. But it is not a far-fetched thought that Gill would have been dropped from the Dhaka Test, despite scoring his maiden century, if Rohit Sharma would have been fit.
However, though the debate regarding India’s opening combination in Test cricket won’t be brought up for the next few weeks, it will resurface when India host Australia for the all-important Border-Gavaskar Trophy in February.
What is India’s best opening combination in Test cricket?
Rohit Sharma is your first name on the team sheet. He hasn’t played much of Test cricket – he missed the 3-Test series in South Africa due to injury, played in 2 Tests at home vs Sri Lanka and now missed the 2 Tests in Bangladesh. Sharma had a terrific Test tour of England in 2021, where he hit his maiden overseas Test ton, and averaged 47 in 2021.
Come the BGT, the debate will revolve around Shubman Gill and KL Rahul. Rahul too had a terrific England 2021 tour where he averaged 39 and hit a century and fifty, helping India take a series lead. He continued his form, notching a century and a fifty in South Africa.
Injuries plagued him in 2022, forcing him to miss the Sri Lanka Tests. Now, in Bangladesh, in a lone Test, he recorded scores of 22 and 23. In the same Chattogram Test, Shubman Gill grabbed his chance by finally hitting his maiden Test ton, to go with 4 attractive half-centuries in 2021, including two knocks – 50 and 91 – in Australia.
Considering that all three of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Shubman Gill will be fit for the Australia Test series, what should be India’s best combination is an interesting debate, but might just be down to one simple dictum of the Indian team management, not just the current one, but also of the past: the incumbent players slot back into the eleven directly, no matter how impressive and successful the fringe players have been.
So while KL Rahul’s form post his comeback from injury has been dodgy and he’s not been at his best, you’d expect KL Rahul to partner Rohit Sharma at the start of the Australia Test series with Gill on the bench as a backup. Unless, India make role changes and shift Gill to middle-order replacing Shreyas Iyer.