The team management and selectors finally ran out of patience with opener K.L. Rahul and dropped the opener from the upcoming Test series against visiting South Africa.
Instead of Rahul, Rohit Sharma will open the innings alongside Mayank Agarwal.
Announcing this after a selection committee meeting in New Delhi on Thursday, the chairman of selectors, M.S.K. Prasad, stated that Rohit has been informed about the decision, and that the cricketer is ready to open in Tests.
“ Rohit will open...Shubman Gill is the back up opener and middle order option....Both will get fair runs” Prasad assured. The India ODI and T-20 opener, who was in red hot form in World Cup, will play the India A and Board President's XI matches ahead of the Test series to get into the groove. He was part of Test side that toured WI last month, but did not get a chance to play.
Prasad said Rahul was given plenty of chances, but his loss of form eventually forced them to take a call on his exclusion. “ It is disappointing, yes. He has been brilliant in patches sadly.” Prasad clarified that Rahul also got extended run due to the changes in the opening slot at the other end.
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Rahul scored 101 in four innings in two Tests against West Indies, with the highest score of 44. His average was a below par 25.25. He has been under scanner for his poor form since the WC.
The selectors have heeded to calls for inclusion of Gill, who has been in good form for India A. “Look, we are giving a lot of chances to India A players. The A team members are performing,” said Prasad.
Prasad, however, did not give a clear assurance on the wicket keeper. When asked whether the inconsistent player would remain the first choice keeper in the team even though Wriddhiman Saha has also been picked, he said, “As of now he is but (pauses) it depends on team management…..you need certain skills to keep at home.”
He indicated that Hardik Pandya was not picked keeping in mind work load management as well as the fact that so many bowlers would not be needed in home conditions.
He firmly denied stories of M.S. Dhoni retiring, saying they were false stories and had no truth about them.