In such a situation, the last thing that India would have liked with a couple of days to go for the series opener was an opening conundrum. Shubhman Gill had been ruled out earlier with an injury and now Mayank Agarwal, who was tipped to take his place, injured himself while batting at the nets on Monday.
It was a Mohammad Siraj bouncer that struck the back of Mayank’s head and it resulted in a concussion, that has ruled him out of the first Test. It has happened so late that the Indian team management has been left in a quandary as to who will open with Rohit Sharma.
While Bengal’s uncapped Abhimanyu Easwaran is the designated reserve opener, there is a serious question mark whether the team management will throw in a rookie at the deep end in a match of this magnitude. It can be noted that the last first-class match that Easwaran has played was way back in March 2020 for Bengal before the pandemic struck. If the management decides not to go in with Easwaran, their other options are KL Rahul and Hanuma Vihari.
💬 💬 Your mental health matters a lot: @ajinkyarahane88 #TeamIndia #ENGvIND https://t.co/5lKl3RDIw7
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1627920851000
Rahul had a Test century at the Oval in 2018 as an opener, but the team management, of late, has decided to use him as a middle-order batsman after his recent struggles at the top of the order. Rahul scored a century in the practice match batting at No. 5 leading up to the first Test and Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri will assess his current form before taking a final call.
Getting into the groove for the 1⃣st #ENGvIND Test be like 👌 💪#TeamIndia https://t.co/giBp5nk09s
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1627917459000
Vihari on the other hand, has opened in Australia before and he has the temperament and the technique to blunt out the new ball. The fact that he can bowl a few overs of off-spin, too, can be counted upon.
Another option that is being floated is to push Cheteshwar Pujara up to open and rejig the middle-order. But Indian vicecaptain Ajinkya Rahane seemed to shut it out. “Pujara has done really well at No. 3 and will continue to do so. The team management is looking into different combinations and you will know it very soon,” Rahane said after practice on Monday.
NEWS 🚨- Mayank Agarwal ruled out of first Test due to concussion.The 30-year-old is stable and will remain under… https://t.co/8JDna6FH7a
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1627909792000
Siraj may get a go
Paceman Siraj was extremely impressive in Australia and there were a lot of discussions about him not playing the World Test Championship final against New Zealand that India lost. The Hyderabad pacer has the temperament to deliver to big stage and it will be interesting to see if Kohli chooses him ahead of the senior pro Ishant Sharma.
Will it be Shardul or Jadeja?
The last time India played at Trent Bridge Hardik Pandya took five wickets to set up an India win. Now bowling coach Bharat Arun has said that they are looking at Shardul as Pandya’s replacement in red-ball cricket. In conditions where there will be some help for pacers, the management may be tempted to play that extra pacer who can bat in place of Jadeja.