Test Squad against South Africa: Rohit likely choice for opening slot, Abhimanyu Easwaran dark horse

Easwaran, a prolific performer at the domestic and India A games, could be rewarded with a place in the side as a reserve opener, if the selection committee decides to drop Rahul.

Published: 11th September 2019 08:44 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th September 2019 08:44 PM   |  A+A-

Indian opener Rohit Sharma. | (File | AFP)

Indian opener Rohit Sharma. | (File | AFP)

By PTI

MUMBAI: Opener KL Rahul's poor show with the bat could pave the way for Rohit Sharma's return to the Indian Test set-up when the selectors meet here on Thursday to decide the squad for the two-match series against South Africa next month.

White ball vice-captain Rohit, who couldn't make the cut in the playing XI against the West Indies, is expected to be tried out as an opener after Hanuma Vihari and Ajinkya Rahane sealed slot Nos 5 and 6 in the batting order respectively.

Rohit's last Test appearance for India was in the away series against Australia in 2018.

Cheteshwar Pujara, at No.3, and skipper Virat Kohli, at No.4, automatically pick themselves.

This has left head coach Ravi Shastri and skipper Kohli with only one option, to try an explosive player like Rohit at the top of the order, following the 'Virender Sehwag impact model'.

Bengal opener Abhimanyu Easwaran, a prolific performer at the domestic and India A games, could be rewarded with a place in the side as a reserve opener, if the selection committee decides to drop Rahul.

The other openers in fray are Priyank Panchal of Gujarat and Shubman Gill of Punjab.

Rahul, considered a favourite of this team management, has scored 664 runs in his last 30 Test innings, with his only notable score -- 149 against England at the Oval last year --, coming in a dead fifth rubber.

With Mayank Agarwal assured of his place, the only bone of contention could be the opening slot where a 15-member squad could ensure both Rohit and Easwaran make it.

In case they both make it, then they might feature in the India A side in the two-day practice game against South Africa in Vizianagaram before the first Test in Visakhapatnam on October 2.

Otherwise, the selection will remain pretty straightforward with only Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who isn't fully fit, likely to miss out.

In that case, all-rounder Hardik Pandya could be back in the Test squad or else Navdeep Saini might come in as a back-up pacer.

However, it remains to be seen whether the Think-Tank will want Pandya to only concentrate on white ball cricket in the next 13 months keeping the World Cup in focus.

Test matches in India normally feature one specialist keeper in the side but Wriddhiman Saha is very much in the scheme of things even though Rishabh Pant remains the top choice.

Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin will be the three spinners while Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma will be the three pacers.

In case Shami is rested, then Umesh Yadav can come in.

Likely Squad: Openers: Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma Middle order: Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari All-rounder: Hardik Pandya Wicketkeepers: Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha Pacers: Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami/Umesh Yadav Spinners: Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav In Contention: Abhimanyu Easwaran (3rd opener), Priyank Panchal (3rd opener), Navdeep Saini (reserve pacer), Kona Bharat (2nd keeper).

Stay up to date on all the latest Cricket news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp