Till date, Team India has been unable to solve the opening pair dilemma. There has not been a constant duo as India have switched from Murali Vijay to Mayank Agarwal to KL Rahul. The advantage India found was Rohit Sharma as India’s Test opener. The swashbuckler earned his spot late, despite making his Test debut in 2013 and has so far, only gone on to impress not only the fans, but the pundits and players as well. Former India opener Sunil Gavaskar weighed in on the opening pair dilemma and has advocated for KL Rahul to open with Rohit, for the India vs England Test series.
From opening for India to playing at No.4, No.5, KL Rahul has been all over the place, thus finding no consistency as of late. With Mayank Agarwal being ruled out from the first Test against England after suffering a concussion from a Siraj bouncer during training and youngster Shubman Gill out due to injury, this would be the perfect opportunity once again for Rahul to prove his mettle.
In an interaction with Hindustan Times, Gavaskar advocates for Rahul to open the first Test with Rohit after the Karnataka batsman scored a hundred in the three-day practice game in England.
Talking about opportunities being handed out, India has tried nine different opening pairs since 2018. Since Shubman was brought into the Test side, the youngster played eight matches with Rohit and has gone on to impress many. However, with his exclusion, Team India are back to square one, but Gavaskar reminds all that Rahul scored a century in the last Test of the 2018 India tour of England series and suggests the Team India decision-makers to consider playing Rahul as an opener alongside Rohit.
However, when it comes to numbers and figures, Rahul has a Test average of 22.70 in 11 Tests played for Team India and that does not justify his stature, especially if one is considering to play Rahul as an opener in the England series.
Gavaskar reminds the Indian team of the importance of openers as they ‘lay the foundation’ and pave way for the middle-order batsmen to go on and score runs. The Indian legend went on to state that openers convert a broken road into a highway for the ‘Ferraris and Lamborghinis’ to drive.
However, in England, India have not had a smooth road to drive on. In the previous series in England, the hosts claimed the five-match series 4-1. The Joe Root led side battered the visitors once again and with the first Test of the series being played at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, the Indians are to tread cautiously as that is Jimmy Anderson’s hunting ground. If the conditions favour seam movement, India are in big trouble unless the Virat Kohli led Team India side play slow and smart cricket.