Things may have not gone India’s way in the third Test against Australia and they’re left with a mountain to climb on day five at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but one of the bright spots for them in the match has been the opening partnership of Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill.
In the first Test of this series, it was Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw who opened the batting for India. But a lot has changed since then. First Shaw and then Agarwal were dropped from the XI for lack of form and India went into the Sydney Test with a new opening combination.
And while their partnership may not prove to be match-winning, Sharma and Gill have impressed by providing platforms to India in both innings. They added 70 runs together in the first innings and 71 in the second to take the sheen of the new ball and ensure India didn’t suffer another top-order collapse.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar believes that the duo has done enough to be given a long run at the top of the order. Speaking to broadcaster Sony after stumps on day four at the SCG, the 71-year-old said that Sharma and Gill did an important job for India.
“It was a very good opening partnership. It’s so important for opening partners to compliment each other’s style. Sometimes you have a situation where one is an attacking player and the other is solid in defense. But here we saw that both have good defense along with some fabulous shots On a day four pitch where the bounce was a bit up and down, they negotiated the bowling very well and played the ball late. Especially against Nathan Lyon, they were very impressive,” said Gavaskar.
“So yes, on the back of what we’ve seen in these two innings, we could say that this is the opening partnership to stick with. But that will be hard on Mayank Agarwal, who has been outstanding in his career so far. As well as young Prithvi Shaw, who can still be a big asset for the Indian team once he works on his back-lift and technique. But for the moment, the way Rohit and Shubman have been batting, I think this is the opening partnership to look forward to.”
Looking ahead at the remainder of the Test, Gavaskar said that it’s crucial for India to not lose a wicket in the first session on day five. India need an improbable 309 runs to win with eight wickets in hand, with captain Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease.
Gavaskar said that the current match situation presents a good opportunity for Hanuma Vihari to step up and prove his worth.
“I think it’s a very good opportunity for young Vihari to show that he’s got it. He had a poor day where he dropped a simple catch right at the start. The ball seemed to follow him, which is what happens when you have one of those days in the field,” said the batting great.
But if Pujara and Rahane can get a partnership in the first session then India gives itself a chance of staying in the game. If that doesn’t happen and Vihari has to come in early then there will be pressure on him. So he can hold one end up if Pujara and Rahane lay a platform. With Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja injured, it all depends on how Pujara, Rahane and Vihari bat.”