Opener KL Rahul’s poor show with the bat could pave the way for Rohit Sharma’s return to the Indian Test set-up once the selectors meet here on Thursday to pick the squad to the two-match series against South Africa next month.
White chunk vice-captain Rohit, who could not make the cut in the playing XI from the West Indies, is expected to be tried out as an opener following Hanuma Vihari and Ajinkya Rahane sealed slot Nos 5 and 6 in the batting order .
Cheteshwar Pujara, at No.3, and skipper Virat Kohli, at No.4, mechanically pick themselves.
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This has left head coach Ravi Shastri and skipper Kohli with just 1 option, to try out an explosive player like Rohit in the peak of the order, after the’Virender Sehwag effect model’.
Bengal opener Abhimanyu Easwaran, a prolific performer at the national and India A games, might be rewarded with a place in the side for a book opener, even if the selection committee decides to drop Rahul.
Rahul, considered a favorite of this team direction, has scored 664 runs in his last 30 Test innings, with his only noteworthy score — 149 against England at the Oval last year –, coming in a lifeless fifth rubber.
With Mayank Agarwal assured of his place, the only bone of contention might be the opening slot at which a 15-member squad could guarantee both Rohit and Easwaran make it.
In the event they make it, then they may feature in the India A side from the practice game against South Africa in Vizianagaram before the first Test in Visakhapatnam on October 2.
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Otherwise, the choice will stay pretty straightforward with just Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is not fully fit, likely to overlook.
If that’s the situation, all-rounder Hardik Pandya could be back in the Test squad or else Navdeep Saini could come in as a backup pacer.
But it remains to be seen whether the Think-Tank will need Pandya to only focus on white ball cricket at the next 13 months maintaining the World Cup in focus.
Test matches in India normally feature one expert keeper at the side but Wriddhiman Saha is quite much in the scheme of things although Rishabh Pant is still the top option.
Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin are the three spinners while Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma are the three pacers.
Abhimanyu Easwaran, a prolific performer at the national and India A games, might be rewarded with a place in the side for a book opener, even when the selection committee decides to drop Rahul.