IND vs NZ 1st Test: New role for Shubman Gill? Selectors want Gill to play in middle-order in Rohit-Kohli’s absence – report

IND vs NZ Test: No Virat, Rohit and Rahul - Will inexperienced batting order stand up against WTC holders New Zealand?
IND vs NZ Test: No Virat, Rohit and Rahul - Will inexperienced batting order stand up against WTC holders New Zealand?

IND vs NZ 1st Test: According to a latest report, the Indian team management is looking to fit in Shubman Gill in the middle order for the first Test in Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli’s absence. Even though Gill has batted at the top of the order for all the matches in his Test career so far, he may be asked to bat in the middle.

With KL Rahul all set to open the innings and Mayank Agarwal to partner him, Gill will have to bat lower down the order if he wants to play. However, it will be interesting to see what will the management do when Kohli is back for the second Test.

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IND vs NZ 1st Test: New role for Shubman Gill? Selectors want Gill to play in middle-order in Rohit-Kohli’s absence – report

Former national selector Jatin Paranjape, who was part of the panel that handed a Test debut to Gill in Australia, feels that it won’t be a very bad idea to fit Shubaman Gill in the middle order.

“I am always a believer that rigidity in team selection doesn’t help. I actually feel that playing Shubman as a middle-order batter will help the team. A certain amount of flexibility always helps,” told Paranjape.

IND vs NZ 1st Test: New role for Shubman Gill? Selectors want Gill to play in middle-order in Rohit-Kohli’s absence – report

It is understood that the new selection committee under Chetan Sharma and the current team management feels that they need at least one player in that middle-order apart from Kohli, who can take the attack back to the opposition camp.

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Had they included Hanuma Vihari also in the set-up, there would have been three players – Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Vihari — who play with the same approach.

If that wasn’t enough, the Indian team also has Wriddhiman Saha, who is more of a survivor, without a free-flowing game, unlike India’s first-choice keeper-batter Rishabh Pant, who will also be on a break.

A batting-order without Rohit, Kohli and Pant requires players with intent and there in comes Gill, who has a wide range of strokes. Having played the new ball, he can also be good against the second new ball when the opposition pacers would be tiring.

The advantage of not having to face Trent Boult’s incoming deliveries is also likely to work in India and Gill’s favour.

IND vs NZ 1st Test: New role for Shubman Gill? Selectors want Gill to play in middle-order in Rohit-Kohli’s absence – report

The interesting choice will be when Kohli is back at number four in the Mumbai Test and if Gill scores runs and one among Pujara and Rahane fails, what are the options present for coach Rahul Dravid?

Paranjape feels that a specialist opener will not make much of a difference in Indian conditions where there won’t be much seam and swing on offer after a certain period of time.

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“I don’t think in India, it’s going to make a lot of difference because overseas it’s more of a specialised role – opener or middle-order. If they use Shubman in the middle-order, I believe it will work as the SG ball will lose its shine pretty quickly.

“In fact, if you see, KL Rahul had batted in the middle-order and had some success early in his career. Shubman can replicate that,” Paranjape explained.

IND vs NZ 1st Test: New role for Shubman Gill? Selectors want Gill to play in middle-order in Rohit-Kohli’s absence – report

But won’t Gill, who has three half-centuries as an opener in his eight Test matches, find it difficult to straightaway adjust to his new role?

“When you are a young player, the capability to adapt to various roles is much quicker than at later stages of your career when you have already played 50 Test matches,” said Paranjape, who in his time as selector had to extensively deal with explaining the players as to what role the team expects from them.

The selectors have included Shreyas Iyer as a specialist middle-order batter but the Mumbaikar might have to wait for his Test debut. Paranjape feels it should happen in due course of time as a few slots will certainly open up.

“Look sooner or later, Cheteshwar and Ajju (Rahane) won’t be playing. So, two out of three between Vihari, Shubman and Shreyas will grab those middle-order slots.

Also Read: India Playing XI vs NZ 1st Test: In Virat Kohli’s absence, Shreyas Iyer all set for Test debut against New Zealand

“Even if Shreyas doesn’t get an opportunity in this series, I won’t be very disheartened as his time will certainly come,” Paranjape added.

IND vs NZ 1st Test: New role for Shubman Gill? Selectors want Gill to play in middle-order in Rohit-Kohli’s absence – report

In fact, he termed Mayank Agarwal as “unlucky” to have lost his Test spot in recent times with Rohit and Rahul giving the team great starts in England during the four Test matches.
Worse, even if Mayank does well, he will have to sit out when India play the Test matches in South Africa, starting December 17.

“I would say it’s a bit unfair for Mayank but I won’t say that he has been treated unfairly. It’s just that circumstances are unfair as he has not been able to get a lengthy run because of the amount of white ball cricket we have played in the interim. But that’s the way it goes,” he reasoned.