India are entering the two match test series against New Zealand with three openers but the big concern is that all three of them are young and inexperienced. The injuries to Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan do not give India a lot of options in the test arena. KL Rahul who has been in form in the shorter formats of the game has not been selected for the test series.
Agarwal, Shaw Under Pressure
Before India could start their 3 match ODI series they were aware of the fact that Rohit who opens for India in test matches was not going to be available. Mayank Agarwal who partners Sharma in test cricket got the nod to open in the ODI series along with Prithvi Shaw.
The selectors wanted to give Shaw and Agarwal time to acclimatize to the conditions in the ODI series and get themselves ready for the test matches. However, both Agarwal and Shaw had a very poor ODI series and the failures of both openers eventually resulted in India losing the ODI series 3-0.
Agarwal has been horribly out of form and Shaw has also struggled to get going. Their failures in the ODI format have scarred them and now they go into the test arena with a lack of confidence. The Kiwi bowlers appear to have worked out how to get both openers cheaply and it showed in the tour game.
All Three India Openers Out Cheaply
The three day tour gaming against New Zealand XI was one last chance for Agarwal and Shaw to click and find form. Sadly they failed yet again with Shaw getting out for a duck and Agarwal getting out for 1. India does have a backup opener in Shubman Gill who has been in New Zealand for a while playing on the India A team and scoring runs.
Gill could have slotted in for Shaw had he made some runs in the tour game. He came in at number four and also got out for a duck. All three openers lost their wicket to Scott Kuggeleijn who bowled a very impressive spell.
The fact that all three openers did not get to double figures will be a big concern for both the selectors and captain Virat Kohli. For India to do well in the test match series against New Zealand, they need their openers to come good.
Opening Partnership Could Decide Team India Fate
When you tour New Zealand, the openers play a vital role as the ball swings and seams a lot in the first 10 to 15 overs. India needs their openers to blunt the new ball and not expose number 3 and 4 to the new ball. It does not matter if the openers don’t score quickly during the first 10 overs. What is important is that they remain at the crease and send off the two new ball bowlers.
If the two openers get out cheaply, that puts a lot of pressure on the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. If the openers succeed and get a decent score, it will boost India’s chances of getting a big score. On the other hand, if they lose their wickets early, India will struggle to post a total in excess of 300.
As of now the India team do not have a lot of options. They will likely go with Agarwal and Shaw in the first test. Gill will most likely miss out as he hasn’t done anything in the tour game to press for a place in the first test. It will be interesting to see if the selectors go back to KL Rahul and get him into the test squad based on his current form in the shorter format of the game.