'Will open with him if Mayank goes out': Jaffer makes unusual playing XI suggestion for 2nd Test against New Zealand
Former Indian cricketer Wasim Jaffer came up with an unusual and temporary fix for the playing XI for the second Test against New Zealand. He admitted the playing XI dilemma to be a "tough call" for the team management amid poor returns from senior batters Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane and two impressive knocks from debutant Shreyas Iyer, but Jaffer offered a solution for India's opening problem.
While Shubman Gill scored a 93-ball 52 in the first innings before being dismissed for just 1 in the second, Mayank managed scores of 13 and 17 in the Kanpur Test. On other hand, Rahane scored 35 and 4 in the game, following which his career batting average has fallen to 39.01, his lowest since February 2014. Jaffer feels that it will be toss-up between Mayank and Rahane.
"It's a toss-up between Mayank Agarwal and Ajinkya Rahane. I would think on those two. That's the toss-up that Virat Kohli has to make. Whether he wants to go with Mayank Agarwal and give him another go or whether [he thinks] Ajinkya Rahane hasn't got enough runs in the last 10-12 Test matches after that Melbourne Test so he goes out. It's a tough call, definitely a tough call. It depends on whom the sword falls on," he told ESPNCricinfo.
Jaffer then suggested that if India drop Mayank for the Mumbai Test, then they can go with Wriddhiman Saha as one of the openers. However, the veteran wicketkeeper, who scored a gutsy 61 not out in the second innings, has never batted above No.6 in Tests, let alone open the innings.
"I think I will open with Saha if at all Mayank Agarwal goes out because then everybody bats out of their position. Pujara will open and then Ajinkya Rahane will bat at some other position... If Saha opens then everyone bats at the same position. And you can do that in Indian conditions with Saha. Is it a long-term call? Definitely not because India will go to South Africa. So they'll have to reconsider their top-six for Mumbai," he explained.
Former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori agreed with Jaffer saying that it could "a stop-gap scenario" given that Rohit Sharma will be back for the next Test while KL Rahul will be fit again for the South Africa Tests.
"I think most selection panels take the easy decisions and I don't blame them for that. The easy decision is to leave Mayank out and open with Saha which I think is fair enough on a stop-gap scenario because Rohit will come back and KL Rahul will be fit again and they'll look at those guys for South Africa. So for a one-off Test match, to keep the balance, to keep the feeling off the order that they want I don't see any issues with that. Whether it's the right call to leave Mayank out is debatable but I think it's the easier decision to make so they'll go with that," he said.