After a comprehensive 3-0 ODI series loss to host New Zealand, the Indian team all set to put on the whites for a two-match Test series, starting February 21 at Basin Reserve in Wellington.
India’s all-format opener, Rohit Sharma, injured his calf muscle while batting in the final T20I of the five-match series.
The injury to India’s ace batsman provided opportunities for U19 World cup sensations Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw, for the opening slot.
In the currently ongoing warm-up game against New Zealand XI, both Shaw and Gill were dismissed by Scott Kuggeleijn before the duo managed to open their account.
That said, coach Ravi Shastri remained optimistic about their chances to feature in the XI, opening the batting with Mayank Agarwal.
“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,” coach Shastri told TOI.
In the game against New Zealand XI, India was reduced to 38-4 before Cheteshwara Pujara and Hanuma Vihari consolidated the innings with their gritty knocks.
Vihari notched up his ton while Pujara was unfortunate to miss out by just seven runs as India posted a total of 263.
“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,” added Shastri.
Further, Shastri rued the absence of their key players due to injury, namely, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has a knack of picking wickets in seaming conditions.
“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,” concluded Shastri.