IND vs NZ 1st Test: No Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill or Mayank Agarwal – who will open with KL Rahul?

IND vs NZ 1st Test: No Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill or Mayank Agarwal – who will open with KL Rahul?
IND vs NZ 1st Test: No Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill or Mayank Agarwal – who will open with KL Rahul?

IND vs NZ 1st Test: No Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill or Mayank Agarwal – who will open with KL Rahul? – India will hope to replicate their T20I series form into the longest format when they kick off their two-test series later this week. The Men in Blue kicked off their new era under Rohit Sharma’s leadership with a whitewash and will hope to do the same starting in Kanpur on Thursday. The series kicks off in the absence of Rohit Sharma, who is rested for the tour, with Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal vying for the spot in the line-up.

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IND vs NZ 1st Test: No Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill or Mayank Agarwal – who will open with KL Rahul?

KL Rahul made the opener’s slot his own with a stunning show in England and he is set to retain his spot at the top of the order. He formed a brilliant combination with Rohit Sharma at the top of the order, but in the absence of the latter, India will have to look for a new opening combination. The squad for the first test has Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal as options, with both having occupied the slot before KL Rahul made it his own in England.

Mayank Agarwal will be itching for an opportunity and has played a lot of cricket with KL Rahul in the past. The duo open together for the Punjab Kings and have been long time teammates with Karnataka. Agarwal also has an impeccable record in home tests, starring against South Africa and Bangladesh back in 2019 before losing his spot during the tour of Australia.

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IND vs NZ 1st Test: No Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill or Mayank Agarwal – who will open with KL Rahul?

Shubman Gill meanwhile also presents as an option at the top, having replaced Agarwal in the series against Australia. Gill scored three fifties in eight Tests but missed the England tour due to injury. The 22-year-old has shown glimpses of his potential in his short career so far, and has reigned supreme in the India A tours and the domestic circuit over the past few seasons.

Gill however could also slot in the middle order in the absence of Virat Kohli for the first test. The Indian captain will be resting before returning for the second Test in Mumbai, meaning that a slot opens up in the middle order. Gill’s versatility and previous experience of playing for India could count in his favour ahead of Shreyas Iyer, who was named in the squad for the first time for the New Zealand series. With both Pujara and Rahane struggling for form recently, Gill could very well emerge as an option in the middle order.