Srinagar: Team India skipper Rohit Sharma has opened up on the heated debate over struggling KL Rahul and youngster Shubman Gill ahead of third Test vs Australia in Indore.
The third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is all set to begin on March 1. Having won the first two Tests in Nagpur and Delhi, India lead the four-Test series 2-0.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Rohit weighed up on underperforming opener KL Rahul’s place in the side, including his recent removal from vice-captaincy.
“I said it after the last game as well that players who are going through a tough time, anyone with potential, will be given enough time to prove themselves,” Rohit said.
“And being vice-captain or not being vice-captain doesn’t actually tell you anything. At that point in time when he was the vice-captain, he was probably the senior-most (in the leadership group). His removal from vice-captaincy doesn’t indicate anything.”
Shastri predicts change in India’s top-order for third Test against Australia
When asked if Gill, who was seen practising quite a bit in the build-up to the Test, was in the reckoning over Rahul, Rohit said,
“As far as Gill and KL Rahul are concerned, that is how they train and practice before any game. Today was an optional training session for the entire group. Whoever wanted to come they came. Other guys like Surya, Ishan are also there. All 17-18 are in reckoning. It’s not about Gill or someone else.
“As far as the playing 11 is concerned, we’ve not yet finalized on it yet. I would like to do it at the toss, considering last-minute injuries can happen.”
India’s lower-order batters played a crucial role in their two Test wins over Australia. All three all-rounders, Ravichandran Ashwin (60 runs), Ravindra Jadeja (96 runs) and Axar Patel (158 runs) have bailed India out of tricky situations in the series.
At the same time, apart from Rohit, who scored a brilliant 120 in Nagpur, no other recognized batter has been able to stamp his authority against Australia so far.
While lavishing praise on the lower-order, Rohit also backed the quality of his top-order batters.
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“Last game specifically, the position that we were in after being 130 (139) for seven odd, from there to get to 260 (262) was a very good effort from our lower-order. Axar Patel, Jadeja and Ashwin bat in the lower order for India, but bat much higher for their Ranji state sides. Axar bats at five.
“It doesn’t matter if contributions come from top or lower-order. It’s the end result for the team that matters, for us we are in that state where we can create that depth with our batting.
“Yes, runs from the top-order haven’t come as per our expectations, but what matters to us is the quality that they bring to the table. With that quality, they are just one or two innings away from getting back in form and producing those big scores for us.”
Placed second in the World Test Championship standings, India are quite close to making it to the finals of the event.