The controversy surrounding the Indian openers in England refuses to die down as several reports suggest that the Indian Head Coach Ravi Shastri was keen on replacing the injured Shubman Gill with Prithvi Shaw and Devdutt Padikkal, both of whom are on national duty in Sri Lanka. With sources in the BCCI stating that Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal would be the first-choice opening pair for the five-Test series and no backup would be called from Sri Lanka, there seems to be some mismatch in the communication and thought process of the BCCI and the Head Coach and former Indian wicketkeeper Saba Karim stated that this uncertainty will only create insecurity amongst the openers who are already a part of the contingent in England.
India has four openers in England. Apart from Rohit and Agarwal, KL Rahul and Abhimanyu Easwaran are also part of the 23-member squad and Karim felt that this talk of flying in openers from Sri Lanka would only add to the insecurity amongst the openers already present in England.
“I will never feel it is justified because if you send an additional replacement the players already in the team will feel extremely insecure. There is no need to create such insecurity," stated Karim.
Karim added that the team needed to trust the selectors and the choices made by them.
“I feel you have to show some faith in the job done by the selectors. I still cannot believe that such a demand would have come from the team management. But if it has come, I feel it is not justifiable," he added.
Karim further stated that if a replacement is needed the matter first needs to be discussed with the selectors and it is the prerogative of the selection committee to take the final call.
“If the team needs a replacement, there is a discussion with the selectors, especially with the chairperson. But which player goes is decided by the selection committee."
Karim was also intrigued why the Indian team felt the need for calling in two openers all the way from Sri Lanka when they already had two accomplished ones in the reserve right there in England. According to him the travel and quarantine restrictions created by the onset of Covid-19 was the only possible reason why the team in England would seek reserve openers to fly in and join the squad on the tour.
“But the question here is why they need a replacement when they have so many openers in the reserve. It is difficult to say from here what could be the reason behind the team management asking for a replacement. It is possible that they might be feeling that the situation that was created in Australia, a similar thing could happen here as well. So they want an opener to be in the team as Shubman Gill has come back and it is a long series, there are going to be five Test matches played and if you need someone in between, the player will not be able to play because of quarantine," quoted Karim.