Indian cricket team's selectors announced the squad for the upcoming Test series against South Africa on Thursday. With Virat Kohli leading the pack once again, the selectors have made just one change to the Test squad that toured the Windies.
KL Rahul has been dropped after recent poor form while Shubman Gill has received his maiden Test call-up. The 20-year-old has been rewarded for his stupendous recent form. Gill’s call-up comes in place of Rahul, who has not made the most of the opportunities that have come his way.
But, as of this moment, Gill will be a back-up to Rohit and Mayank Agarwal or can be slotted in the middle order as well if the need arises, stated chief selector MSK Prasad.
“Yes, we are definitely looking (at Rohit) as an opener, and we want to give him an opportunity,” Prasad said after the squad announcement. “He is keen, and all of us in the selection committee are keen too. We want to push him, and give him some opportunities up the order, and see where he stands, and then we will take a call. (Like other openers) he will get a fair run.”
“He has been opening in white-ball cricket for more than a decade. We feel he has the capability to bat up the order, we have seen that in white-ball cricket, and if he can do that in red-ball cricket, then nothing like it. We have a lot of practice matches coming up, which will be a boost to this side,” he added.
Punjab youngster Gill has played 14 first-class matches and scored 1443 runs at an average of 72.15 with best of 268. He slammed a double ton for India A during their tour of West Indies.
“He has done well both as an opener and in the middle order, so he can be a back-up for both the slots,” Prasad said. “That’s the reason when KL [Rahul] was dropped out, we had given him the opportunity, but as keeps playing he’ll get more opportunities because he’s a player for all three formats.”
Prasad spoke about the need to persist with a multi-format talent like Rahul.
“To tell you the truth, I think he’s an exceptional talent. We backed him, but his form has definitely dipped in red-ball cricket. With Shikhar (Dhawan) not there, Murali Vijay has gone out, so you need to stick with one opener. You just can’t keep changing both the openers in the side,” Prasad said.
“Probably with the seniors (having) exited, KL has got more opportunities but unfortunately he was not delivering consistently, and only delivering in patches. And even during those patches you could see that brilliance in him, so that gives you confidence ‘Come on, let’s back him.’ When he’s on song, he’s a treat to watch."
Asked if it was curtains for Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and KL Rahul, Prasad said, “Let me give you the example of VVS Laxman. When he was dropped once from the side, he went to the domestic side, scored 1400 runs and never looked back.”
“Whoever we give an opportunity now, we will give them a fair run. We have created a bench-strength succession chart in each department in all formats,” he added.