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Who should open with Mayank Agarwal? Wisden India readers have their say

by Wisden Staff 4-minute read

As India embark on their tour of Australia two years after winning their first ever Test series Down Under, they still have multiple team selection and combination issues to solve, one of which is to decide on an opening partner for Mayank Agarwal.

Now Agarwal is a sure shot selection. After debuting on India’s previous tour to Australia and scoring half-centuries in his first two Tests, he has gone from strength to strength. The Karnataka and Kings XI Punjab batsman has since scored two double hundreds, a century and two more fifties to take his tally to 974 runs at 57.29 after 11 Tests.

But the Indian team management is yet to decide on Agarwal’s opening partner. They have ample options, however, with Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, all capable of taking up the role. Rohit’s selection in the Test squad after being initially kept out due to fitness concerns has further complicated the matter, and at the same time has made the discussion an interesting one.

We asked our readers about who they think should open with Agarwal in Australia. And here are the answers they came up with.

Shubman Gill

Gill’s exploits at the top of the order for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL this season has swung a few opinions in his favour. “[Shubman] should be given a look in … Immense talent,” a reader commented, while another added that Gill has the required skillset to see off the new ball, which will make things easier for the batsmen to follow. Gill’s career numbers are phenomenal; the 21-year-old currently averages 73.55 from 21 first-class matches.

Prithvi Shaw

Shaw didn’t have the best of IPLs but some fans believe that he should open for India in the first Test, at the very least, as benching him might further dent his confidence.

“Shaw @ no 1, Rahul @ no 2, Agarwal @ no 3, Sharma ji [Rohit] can give the best show @ no 5 or 6,” one of our readers wrote. An interesting take but one that involves nudging Chetehswar Pujara – India’s Player of the Series on their most recent Australia tour – either out the side or down the order. at one down.

Rohit Sharma

While Rohit will be absent from the two white-ball series, he has been included in the squad for the Tests and seems to be the fan favourite to open alongside Agarwal. Even though Sharma is yet to prove his worth as a Test batsman in overseas conditions, most of our readers seem pretty sure that he will fire in Australia.

“Obviously Rohit Sharma,” a WI reader wrote. “There is no other choice. Mayank and him will destroy those dangerous Aussie pacers.”

“Let’s use Rohit as a surprise element, if he succeeds in the overseas series then it will be a great advantage for us,” another of our readers added. While Rohit has excelled since his promotion to the top of the order, his record away from home pales in comparison to his formidable record in India. Rohit averages just 26.32 in away Tests, compared to 88.33 at home.

KL Rahul

KL Rahul finished the IPL season as its top run-getter, which has some of our readers convinced that he can convert his white-ball form into Tests as well. The general consensus seems to be that if he has been playing so well recently, why keep him out?

“Obviously KL Rahul. In fine form- experienced & reliable even in swinging pitches.”

Some also believe that Rahul can be a good option for the number four spot once captain Virat Kohli heads back home after the first Test. “KL Rahul to be used at No. 4 in Virat Kohli’s absence,” a WI reader commented.

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