The ongoing Test series against Australia has been a mixed one for India so far. The world number one Test side started the series on a high by winning the series-opener in Adelaide. However, the hosts bounced back in style, winning the second Test by 146 runs to level the series.
One of the reasons behind India’s dismal performance in the second Test as well as the poor batting show in the series so far is the lack of good starts. Both KL Rahul and Murali Vijay have fared poorly in the series so far. In four innings thus far, they have shared partnerships of 3, 63, 6 and 0. The latest show has only extended the duo’s poor show with the bat this year. And now with so much at stake in the upcoming third Test, India looks set to come up with a new opening pair. Now going by the current form, both the openers deserved to be dropped. However, given that Rahul has got way more chances than Vijay, the former should face the axe.
After scoring 2 and a duck in Perth, KL Rahul now has 11 single-digit scores in his last 23 Test innings. In fact, he has 16 scores of less than 20 in his last 23 innings. Consequently, he has managed to score just 475 runs since November 2017 at an average of 21.59. What makes things further worse for Rahul is the amount of balls he has faced. On an average, he has faced just 35 balls in an innings. It is the lowest number of balls per innings amongst all Indian batsmen.
Rahul now looks more than likely to sit out of the playing eleven. And the man who looks likely to replace him is uncapped Mayank Agarwal. Agarwal was initially not named in the squad but was recalled to replace injured Prithvi Shaw.
Agarwal broke into the Indian team after a sensational 2017-18 domestic season. He amassed 1160 runs in 13 innings of the Ranji Trophy. In November 2017, he scored his maiden triple century in first-class cricket.
He followed it up by amassing 723 runs in 8 matches at a staggering average of 90.37 in the 2017-18 season of the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He thus became the highest run-getter in one season of the tournament. The record for the most runs in a List-A tournament was previously held by Sachin Tendulkar who scored 673 runs in the 2003 ICC World Cup.
When the 2017-18 season ended, Agarwal had the most number of runs across all formats. He scored 2,141 runs across all formats in 2017-18. In June 2018, he was awarded with the Madhavrao Scindia Award For The Highest Run-Scorer In Ranji Trophy by the BCCI.
He has also impressed for India A in recent times and is looking likely to make his debut in Melbourne.