Cricket

Mayank Agarwal should open in the absence of Gill, Rahul can fit in the middle-order, claims Wasim Jaffer

Former Indian opener Wasim Jaffer has batted for the inclusion of Mayank Agarwal at the top of the order against England, in the absence of Gill, and believes that the Karnataka opener will be keen to bounce back. Jaffer has also batted for the inclusion of KL Rahul but in the middle-order.

After playing musical chair with openers for several years, India finally found a stable opening partnership in the form of Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, but an injury to the latter means that the team will have to make do with a new partner for Rohit come the England series. Gill is reportedly said to have suffered a serious leg injury, and the injury is expected to rule out the youngster for at least the initial part of the series.

Luckily, team India have an abundance of options in the squad, but former Indian opener Wasim Jaffer wants the Kohli-led side to give a second chance to Mayank Agarwal. Agarwal, who had a near-perfect start to his Test career, was axed from the red-ball side after a horror Australia tour, but Jaffer is of the opinion that the Karnataka opener deserves a second chance to prove his worth.

“It will be a very big opportunity for Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul with Mayank being my first preference. He has had an excellent career so far. He was dropped after two poor outings in Australia but I am sure he will be looking forward to this opportunity,” Jaffer said in his YouTube channel, reported TOI.

KL Rahul is another name in contention to take Gill’s spot, but Jaffer is keen to see the 29-year-old bat in the middle-order. Jaffer believes Rahul has a place in the starting XI, but not as an opener.

“It is a very big series of five Test matches which can make or break a cricketer’s career. I feel KL Rahul can also fit somewhere in the middle-order if not as an opener,” Jaffer said.

After a disappointing showing in the WTC Final, many saw the England Tests as the ideal opportunity for young Gill to send a strong message, but the injury means that the 21-year-old might potentially have to wait multiple years before setting foot on English soil again. Jaffer termed the untimely injury as a ‘big blow’ for Gill, who has failed to show consistency in the longest format after a stunning introduction in Australia.

“It will be a big blow for India as well as Shubman Gill because as a youngster, you look forward to this kind of series to make a name for yourself. Considering that we judge a player by their overseas performance, it will be a setback for him to miss the first couple of games,” the former opener said.

England, of late, has been a ‘bogey’ country for India, with them not having won a Test series in the UK in 14 years. Jaffer believes that the forthcoming five-match series will be a ‘very important’ tour, and hoped for the players to rise to the occasion.

“It will be a very important series for India because we haven’t won any series in England since 2007-08 though we have come close. Although Shubman Gill’s injury will be a big blow, the players will look to step up and deliver.”

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