New Delhi : Former India head coach Ravi Shastri has backed Suryakumar Yadav to bat at number five in the first Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test against Australia, to be held at VCA Stadium, Jamtha, Nagpur from Thursday.
Suryakumar hasn’t played Test cricket yet, and his selection in the Test squad for the first two matches against Australia came largely on the back of his highly impactful performances in T20Is.
With no Shreyas Iyer due to a back injury, Suryakumar, who averages 45.93 after 74 first-class matches, is being largely seen to make his Test debut by batting at number five and give an attacking edge to India’s batting order on spin-friendly pitches.
“At number five, Suryakumar (Yadav) will get the position, because there’s no Shreyas (Iyer). There’ll be talk about, ‘can (Shubman) Gill bat at five?’ I think you need the right guy for the right number.”
“At five, when you go there, especially if the ball is turning, then you need someone who is good at playing the right shots against spin. Surya demands that position. I think it’s straightforward,” said Shastri on The ICC Review show on Wednesday.
With Shastri ruling out Gill to bat at number five, he believes that the decision on the young right-handed batters inclusion should come down to who between him or vice-captain KL Rahul looks in better touch to open the batting alongside captain Rohit Sharma.
Gill had scored his maiden Test hundred in the first Test against Bangladesh at Chattogram. Rahul, who captained the Test team as Rohit was out due to thumb injury, didn’t have a great time on the tour with the bat, registering scores of 22, 23, 10 and 2.
“Shubman or Rahul depends on the team management, what they think. Obviously, you’d want to go with what you’ve been doing in the past, but form becomes critical.
You know, someone’s hitting it real sweet and it’s coming out of the centre of the bat. Then, you know, you wake up, and say, ‘listen’.” “I’d have been watching Gill and Rahul very closely in the nets.
Very closely. If it’s a hard call; when I see footwork, when I see timing as to who is batting better. If it has to be Shubman ahead of Rahul, so be it. You know, straight.
You have to see that. I won’t say that KL Rahul is the vice-captain so he becomes the automatic choice.” “It can happen. It happened once in my tenure when I was a coach in Sri Lanka.
There was a series that happened in India, and there were two openers. And, you know, they wanted to persevere with one. I took over and then I just saw the form of Shikhar Dhawan in the nets, and he was red-hot straight after the Champion’s Trophy in England.
So we picked him and he got 190 in that game, and the rest is history,” elaborated Shastri. Perhaps, the biggest conundrum in the Indian camp is who between KS Bharat and Ishan Kishan will be the wicketkeeper-batter for the Nagpur Test.
With Rishabh Pant out for an indefinite period as he’s recovering from injuries suffered in a serious car accident on December 30, Shastri thinks India need to choose the best keeper considering spinners Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav will be bowling in tandem.
“If you know it’s definitely going to turn, then I’ll go for the best keeper. That’s what the team has to decide. I won’t go, ‘who’s a better batsman’. Here you need a guy who’s very good with the gloves, because you’ve got quality spinners.
You’ve got Ash (Ashwin), you’ve got Jadeja, you’ve got Kuldeep. If the ball spins, you need a very good keeper.” “If you look at this Australian line-up, they’ve got some seasoned campaigners there.
You don’t want to miss out on a big player at 25 or 30, and he goes to get 130 and makes you pay for it. The team management can decide who is keeping the best, who they think, at that moment in time, is the best keeper. But my logic, my thinking, would be that.”