Sourav Ganguly backs Rohit Sharma to replace KL Rahul as Test opener

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Former India captain Sourav Ganguly feels that India should open with Rohit Sharma in Tests, ahead of their struggling incumbent opener KL Rahul.

“I had suggested earlier about trying Rohit Sharma as an opener in Test cricket and I still believe that he needs to be given an opportunity because he is too good a player to be left out in the cold,” Ganguly wrote in a column for The Times of India.

Ganguly’s comments follow Rahul’s indifferent form against the red ball, most recently on India’s tour of the Caribbean. In the last innings of the series, in Kingston, Rahul batted 83 minutes to score a painstaking 6, off 63 balls. Since his 149 against England in September last year, Rahul has failed to go past 44 in 12 Test innings, totalling 101 runs in four innings against West Indies.

Since the start of 2016, India have tried out nine different batsmen at the top of the order, including Mayank Agarwal, Rahul’s partner in the West Indies series. Ganguly believes that Agarwal, who debuted in Australia late last year, looks the part, but the position of his partner is still up for grabs.

“The opening still remains an area to work on,” Ganguly wrote. “Mayank Agarwal looks good and will need a few more opportunities to thrash out his game. But his partner is the area to be looked into. KL Rahul flattered to deceive and has not come off and that leaves with an opening at the top.”

Rohit is yet to open in Tests, and has primarily batted at Nos.5 and 6 in his 27-match career, while averaging 39.62. Having started his career with two back-to-back tons, Rohit has not been able to nail down a regular spot post his remarkable debut, managing only one more hundred in his next 45 innings.

Considered one of the greatest one-day openers of all time, Rohit was the leading run-getter at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, averaging 81 and scoring five hundreds, the most by any batsman in a single edition.

“After a fantastic World Cup, I believe he will be itching to grab the opportunity to open in Test cricket,” Ganguly opined. “With [Ajinkya] Rahane and [Hanuma] Vihari nicely settled in there is not much chance to tamper with the middle order.”

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