Former India cricketer and commentator Sanjay Manjekar reckons Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, who would be leading Team India in Virat’s absence in the Tests, should bat at number four in the order. Virat Kohli won’t be a part of the longer format as he would be on paternity leave for the last three Tests, and would return home post the first Test match at the Adelaide Oval, which would be India’s first Day-Night Test in overseas conditions.
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Manjrekar picked Prithvi Shaw alongside Mayank Agarwal to open the innings in the first two Tests, in case Rohit Sharma isn’t available for selection. If Shaw encounters a poor run of form, then Shubman Gill could be roped into the playing XI. He clearly pointed out that Kohli’s absence in the last three Tests would a massive setback for the tourists in the upcoming Border-Gavaskar series.
We will have to wait and see whether Rahane steps up, says Sanjay Manjrekar
Rahane, who is among the most bankable players in the overseas conditions, has played the bulk of his career at number 5 in Tests and so far, he has aggregated 3194 runs while averaging close to 40, in 86 innings played at that position.
“Mayank Agarwal walks in as opener in Tests, let us assume that Rohit is not playing the first two Tests, I would go for Prithvi Shaw as the second opener. Let us see how it goes and if Shaw shows the poor form as he did in the IPL, then Shubman Gill can be looked at.
In Virat’s absence, Ajinkya Rahane should step up and bat at number four. Hanuma Vihari can bat at number five, if Shubman is tried in the middle-order, then he should bat at number six,” the former Mumbai cricketer was quoted saying in Times Now.
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Rahane averages over 45 in away Test matches and has a good batting record in Australian conditions. In 8 Tests, he has amassed 616 runs at an average of 44.00 and holds a century and four half-centuries to his name. The 32-year-old has been among the highest run-getters for Team India in the ICC World Test Championship (WTC), scoring 715 runs in 9 Tests, averaging 59.58, with two hundreds and five fifties under his belt.
He added, “Rahane has been averaging more than 50 in his last nine Tests, we will have to wait and see whether Rahane steps up, in fact, it is a question of the entire batting line-up stepping up, we have only seen them in white-ball cricket, Kohli not being there after the first Test is a massive setback.
At present, the Men in Blue are trailing the 3-match ODIs by 0-1, which would be followed by the three-match T20Is, and finally the four-match Test series from December 17 to January 19.