New Delhi: The Indian cricket team management’s lop-sided thinking while picking playing XIs continued during the first Test in Adelaide as they picked the talented but out-of-form Prithvi Shaw to play as opener alongside Mayank Agarwal even though the high-pressure game was a pink-ball Test, a day-nighter, Indias only second.
Shaw had a poor run in the four innings across two warm-ups, aggregating 62, and also had a poor run in the latter half of the Indian Premier League (IPL) where he failed to cross 10 in the last seven innings.
An experienced campaigner like KL Rahul, who opened the batting during the 2018-19 tour of Australia, could have been an option, but India went ahead with Shaw. Lack of openers had forced India to pick Rahul for the Test squad, based on his IPL performances for Kings XI Punjab at the top, despite him not having made much of an impression at the Test level. Rahul was, surprisingly kept out of the second warm-up for which he was available.
Shaw’s dismissals, bowled both times for four and nought in India’s demoralising loss, however, invited criticism and put additional pressure on the opening batsman who is trying to make a comeback to the Test team after his impressive debut against West Indies at home a couple of years ago.
The team management’s retrograde and regressive thinking was also on display earlier in South Africa in 2018 when they benched Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who picked six wickets, including a four-wicket haul, in an innings in the first Test in Cape Town, for the second Test in Centurion, citing that he would be ineffective on a slow Centurion wicket.
Apart from that, India did not play Ajinkya Rahane, who was the vice-captain in the first two Tests as the Indian team’s batting crumbled.
In England in 2018, too, the Indian team management made selection blunders pretty regularly. They dropped Cheteshwar Pujara from the first Test based on his form in English county competitions. They played Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav ahead of a pacer under overcast conditions at Lord’s, London, and featured an injured R Ashwin in the fourth Test.
The team managed to get respite after the victorious tour of Australia in 2018-19 when the Indian team won the historic Test series 2-1.
However, the selection of the playing XI has come under scrutiny once again on the current tour.
There have already been calls for Hardik Pandya to have been picked in the playing XI purely as a batsman. Former Australia spinner Shane Warne had asked for Pandya’s inclusion in the Test squad immediately after the ODIs.
Pandya notched up two impressive and patient knocks of 90s, taking the game deep, in the three ODI games. However, Kohli insisted that Pandya’s place in the team is only as an all-rounder and not as a batsman.