India’s stand-in-captain, Ajinkya Rahane has stressed the need for a good opening partnership ahead of the Boxing Day Test which starts at the MCG from the 26th of December. Not surprisingly then that India has dropped Prithvi Shaw who was out for a duck and 4 in Adelaide and replaced him with the technically more correct, Shubman Gill. Shaw has aggregated a total of 66 runs in 6 innings in Australia so far (including the two tour matches) and looked all at sea against the world class Australian pace attack of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.
“See the opener’s role is not only crucial in Australia but everywhere and I don’t want to put any pressure on our openers. Just want to give them the freedom so that they can play their game," quoted Rahane ahead of the all important second Test in Melbourne. India has had a long lasting problem with their opening partnership in Australia with the last fifty stand registered back in Adelaide in 2018 when Murali Vijay and KL Rahul put on 63 for the opening wicket in the first innings. Since the, the opening stand has failed to reach double-digits on as many as 5 of 8 occasions.
Rahane further added that a good opening stand eases the pressure on the middle order as the tough work of seeing off the new and hard ball is done by the openers. “As mentioned, the opener’s role is very crucial as when you get the partnership going it becomes very easy for the batsmen to follow". Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari had added 40 for the opening-wicket in MCG in 2018. More significantly, they played out almost 19 overs with the new ball. The middle order fired and India massed more than 400 in the first innings eventually going on to win the Test and take a 2-1 lead in the series.
India would be hoping that the new pair of Agarwal-Gill will give them a solid start which will lay the platform for the likes of Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara to build a substantial first innings’ total.