Following their disastrous show with the bat in the second innings of the Adelaide Test, the Indian think tank will be weighing all their options in terms of deciding the Playing XI for the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground starting on December 26. With India folding for their lowest Test total of all time (36), with not a single batsman entering double digits, quite a few changes could be expected for the Boxing Day Test
With Virat Kohli’s departure back to India and Mohammed Shami all but ruled out for the second Test of the series, India are certain to make changes in the Playing XI, with hopefully KL Rahul and one of Mohammed Siraj or Navdeep Saini getting a look in. Which now brings us to the opening pair. Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw registered low scores in both innings of the Adelaide Test, but among the two the 20-year-old batsman looked woefully out of form.
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Shaw was bowled for a second ball duck in the first innings and had his stumps rattled in the second innings, and having batted for a total of just six balls in Adelaide, the calls of his axing are getting louder. However, former Australia batsman Michael Hussey is among the selected few who feels the management should persist with Shaw for the Boxing Day Test believing the MCG strip will suit the Indian batsmen more.
“I think that selectors should show some faith in Prithvi Shaw. Yes, he didn’t get any runs in this Test match but it’s one Test, against some quality bowling of a difficult pitch to bat,” Hussey told ESPNCricinfo.
“Joe Burns was averaging less than 7 in FC cricket. The selectors showed faith in him. He got out cheaply in the first innings but he slowly got his confidence back, worked his way through it and you see the character of the guy and he ended up scoring 50 not out.”
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Despite not getting among the runs in the two practice matches, the management stuck with Shaw for the all-important Day-Night Test. Many believed that young batsman Shubman Gill should have been a better candidate to open with Agarwal, given he had struck a couple of half-centuries in the warm-up games and looked a lot more assured with his footwork and techniques. Hussey understands that Shaw did not have the best of Tests, but also believes it is unfair to drop the batsman on the basis of one bad Test.
“For Prithvi Shaw, find out about his character. Show that faith in him, give him that belief and tell him ‘look, we’re backing you’. The Melbourne pitch will suit him a lot more. It certainly won’t have the same pace and bounce. He’s obviously got enormous talent,” Hussey added.
“What it does is that it sends a great message to the rest of the team. It’s like ‘Look guys, even if you have a bad Test here or there, we’re not going to lose faith in you’. We know you’re good players and we’ll back you. I firmly believe that selectors should stick with Shaw despite not looking in great touch in the Test match.”