Team India head coach Ravi Shastri heaped praise on young talents Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill, both of whom are in the race to play the first Test against New Zealand, starting February 21.
Either one of Shaw or Gill will be picked as the second opener along with Mayank Agarwal for the series-opener in Wellington. Shaw is likely to get the nod ahead of Gill as he also played in the recently-concluded one-day international series against the Black Caps, scoring 84 runs from the 3 matches.
Notably, both Shaw and Gill were dismissed for 0 by Scott Kuggeleijn on Day 1 of the ongoing tour match against New Zealand XI which began on Friday. Shaw had opened with Mayank, who scored just 1 run, while Gill batted at No. 4. India were all out for 263 by stumps with Hanuma Vihari (101) and Cheteshwar Pujara (92) scoring majority of the runs while the rest all flopped.
“Both are supremely exciting talents. Regardless of who gets into the XI in Wellington, the fact of the matter is they’re here, part of India’s national squad, and from here on they should know that the sky remains the limit.
“They’re all from the same school, you know. They love facing the new ball, enjoy a challenge. Rohit is unfortunately out so that puts Shubman and Prithvi in contention to open with Mayank. That competition is necessary and that’s what makes a bunch of 15 look strong and stable,” Ravi Shastri told The Times of India.
Shastri also rued the fact that India will be missing some key players in the series due to injuries but is confident that the world No. 1 Test team has like-for-like replacements for the ones missing from the squad.
Opener Rohit Sharma (shoulder) and seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar (sports hernia) were ruled out of the Tests due to injuries while Ishant Sharma, who is the leader of the pace attack, is yet to regain full fitness.
If Ishant doesn’t get fit in time, then Umesh Yadav will get to play along with Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.
“Around four to five of our core are missing. Bhuvi could’ve been extremely useful in the conditions here, but never mind. That’s why I said, having options available are always in the best interests of the team,” Shastri said.