'Shubman Gill scored big hundreds but SKY…': Rohit Sharma's remark on Pant, Iyer's replacements builds mystery
Rohit Sharma added more suspense surrounding India's Playing XI for 1st Test. Will it be Ishan Kishan or KS Bharat? Will India ask Shubman Gill to bat in the middle order or take the gamble of handing a debut to Suryakumar Yadav?
Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer's injuries have left a big hole in the Indian middle-order ahead of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy opener against Australia in Nagpur, starting Thursday. Pant is ruled out of the entire series while Iyer is likely to join the squad for the second Test match in New Delhi starting February 17. But who will take gloves in Nagpur? Will it be Ishan Kishan or KS Bharat? Will India ask Shubman Gill to bat in the middle order or take the gamble of handing a debut to Suryakumar Yadav? There is a debate for one spot in the bowling department too. While Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj more or less pick themselves, the fight for the third spinner's spot is between Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav.
On the eve of the first India vs Australia Test match, captain Rohit Sharma decided to keep his cards close to his chest. In what is a contrasting stance from the Virat Kohli era where India at times, revealed their playing XI a day before the Test match, Rohit decided to keep the mystery on.
The Indian captain said they are yet decide between Suryakumar Yadav and Shubman Gill. "Shubman (Gill) has been in supreme form. He has scored a lot of big hundreds (in ODIs). On the other hand, SKY (Suryakumar Yadav) has shown what he brings to the range, but we have not decided who we will go with," Rohit said in the pre-match press conference when asked about Shreyas Iyer's replacement.
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Vice-captain KL Rahul, though not in the best of forms, will open the batting with Rohit Sharma. Gill had a pretty good series at the top of the order against Bangladesh when Rohit was out injured. The talented right-hander, who has set the stage on fire in ODIs, registered his maiden Test hundred in the first match against Bangladesh. However, he might have to wait for another shot in the whites mainly due to the absence of Pant.
Pant has been a match-winner for India in the longest format. In his absence, the Indian think tank want someone who can take the attack to the opposition. There is no one better for that job at the moment than Suryakumar Yadav, who has had a phenomenal run in T20Is in the last couple of years. The fact that SKY hasn't played red-ball cricket that regularly in the last few years may go against him but the way he was inspecting the pitch on Wednesday, was sure shot indication that he is likely to get the Test cap on Thursday.
"We will miss Rishabh Pant but we have guys to fill into he role. We have had a good talk with the batters about their plans and hopefully, we will execute it from tomorrow onwards," the Indian captain said.
Rohit's reply was pretty much similar when asked about the choice of spinners for the first Test. "All four spinners are quality, Jadeja and Ashwin played a lot together, Axar and Kuldeep whenever they have got the opportunity have done well," he said.