India vs Australia: Virat Kohli, Ravi Shastri & Anil Kumble have their take on Indian openers Rahul & Vijay
If the form of the Indian openers was already not a concern for India coach Ravi Shastri and captain Virat Kohli, Shastri’s predecessor Anil Kumble has now put his weight behind Mayank Agarwal to be included in the playing XI for the third Test of the four match series against Australia, starting on Wednesday at the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground. The series is currently locked at 1-1 after India won the first Test in Adelaide and the Aussie made a quality comeback in Perth.
“I would certainly have Mayank Agarwal in the eleven, I think it is nice to get a youngster, kind of energy that you need, we have seen Hanuma Vihari perform, we have seen Kuldeep Yadav perform, we have seen Rishabh Pant perform then why not have Mayank Agarwal in the mix,” Kumble told News18.
Indian openers KL Rahul and Murali Vijay have been ineffective in the first two Tests and Kumble feels that it is time for a change at the top of the order. In four innings, Vijay has scores of (11 & 18) and (0 & 20) while Rahul has scored (2 & 44) and (2 & 0).
Kumble also hinted at having Hanuma Vihari open the innings with Mayank. “So will go with Hanuma Vihari, try and push him up the order. And then have Pujara, Virat and Ajinkya and Rishabh Pant as your wicket-keeper,” he said.
Shastri had himself conceded in the press conference on Sunday that Rahul and Vijay’s form was a concern. “It’s a big concern. It’s obvious that responsibility and accountability has to be taken by the top order. They’ve got the experience, they’ve got the exposure over these last few years to get out there and deliver. It’s about how strong you are in the mind,” he added.
When asked whether Mayank Agarwal would open the innings in the third Test match after he was called up to replace the injured Prithvi Shaw, Shastri said the team management will take a call in the next 24 hours.
“Well he’s a good young player, he’s got loads of runs for India A. He’s come through the ranks. When you look at his domestic record, his performances have been as good as anyone. That’s a call we’ll have to take in the next 24 hours,” Shastri said.
But earlier, skipper Kohli had hinted that he wanted the same openers for MCG when he said: “You just have to keep backing them and telling them that they belong and they’re good enough to perform,” Kohli said.
“It’s just telling them this is what we require as a team from the openers and this is the role that needs to be fulfilled. I’m sure those guys have figured out what’s gone wrong in this game especially and they’re very keen to correct it themselves,” he said after the Perth Test.