The first two Tests between India and Australia had made it evident that India’s openers are in no shape to handle the Aussie bowlers. Both KL Rahul and Murali Vijay have made it difficult for us not to question their future prospects. At a time when India and Australia are at a level after hosts hampered India’s winning chances by 146 runs at Perth, it will be paramount to decide the openers if Viral Kohli led side wants to win the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
There is still a week for India to decide which players will open for the team or the same pair of Rahul-Vijay will be bet on. The BCCI selectors have called in India A batsman Mayank Agarwal announcing that that teenaged opener Prithvi Shaw will have no further participation in the tour.
Much was anticipated of Shaw who made a brilliant mark with his 66 from 69 balls at the SCG game last month. It was the nasty ankle injury that rendered him useless for the team as there are no signs of his recovery. This has forced inclusion of the uncapped Agarwal to the squad. There are chances that Mayank can make his Test debut at the MCG.
It is no surprise as Agarwal was also called to open for India against West Indies last month. His performance for India A has also culminated accolades. Agarwal has finished the 2017-18 domestic season with a record-breaking 2,141 runs that helped him to get picked for the national team. Also, he topped the Ranji Trophy run chart with 1160 at 105.45, that included 3 centuries and 2 fifties. Also, as a part of the India A tour of England, he was one of the leading run-getter for the team with 287 from four one-day games.
However, the inclusion of Agarwal in Test is not as straightforward as dubious selection calls have become somewhat a theme for top teams these days.
Parthiv Patel is also present in the Indian national squad for Test. He has opened for the team two years ago when he was called back after a long break. This year, Patel has played two Test against South Africa in January. If the selectors give a nod then we can see him opening for India at the MCG.
Some may argue that bringing in Rohit Sharma can be a good option as well. Sharma is an excellent opener in limited overs format for India and does a fine job at it. He is ranked second on ODIs. While Test cricket is a whole different game, but given the case of openers, Rohit Sharma could do no worse than the walking wickets like Rahul or Vijay.
KL Rahul and Murali Vijay as a pair have an average of 20.88 in Test which is the worst in the history of the game.
Therefore, the best game for India is open with Mayank Agarwal, Parthiv Patel or Rohit Sharma replacing the opening pair of Rahul and Vijay.