India vs South Africa: Rohit Sharma As Test Opener "Something We Wanted To Do For Long Time": Virat Kohli
Rohit Sharma has been called up as opener for the first Test against South Africa at Vizag and Virat Kohli said that using him at the top of the order was something Team India has been contemplating for a while now.
- Rohit Sharma will open the batting in Test series vs South Africa
- Virat Kohli said the team think tank wanted to try this for a long time
- He said Rohit Sharma can make the batting lineup even more lethal
While Rohit Sharma has been earmarked to open the batting for India in the Test series against South Africa starting on Wednesday, there has been talk of chances not being given to players who have impressed in the domestic circuit. Shubman Gill has been included in the squad but players like Abhimanyu Easwaran and Priyank Panchal are still waiting in the wings despite piling on runs in the Ranji Trophy last year. India captain Virat Kohli said that while players will get a chance on the back of their performances, the decision to play Rohit as an opener is one that the Team India think tank wanted to try for a long time.
"This is basically an opportunity for us to do something that we wanted to do for a long time and let that particular process happen over a period of time," Virat Kohli said in a press conference ahead of the first Test against South Africa in Vishakhapatnam.
"We have given people opportunities in the past. Mayank (Agarwal) came into the system, KL (Rahul) had been there for a while, (Murali) Vijay was opening for a while so there is definitely going to be room for people to come in because of their performances," the Indian skipper said.
"We feel like because we have a test championship to look forward to and Rohit's been in the test setup for a long time, it's about providing him with the opportunity to really find his game and find that template that he really wants to in Test cricket," Kohli told reporters.
Kohli said that if Rohit Sharma found his groove as an opener, it would add more bite to the top order.
"We understand that if he does that then our batting order at the top becomes even more lethal," Kohli said.
"It's difficult to have a player like Rohit not start for you every time. This is probably the most exciting opportunity for him and us as a team as well," he added.
Piyank Panchal starred for Gujarat in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy season, scoring 898 runs in nine matches. Bengal opener Abhimanyu Easwaran also made a case for a national team call up with 861 runs in six matches.
Shubman Gill, who has put in some impressive performances for India A, averages close to 70 in First Class cricket and has 1,535 runs from 15 matches.
Speaking about giving chances to new players, Virat Kohli said that it was great to have so many options ready and waiting to take their opportunities.
"People are always going to be knocking on the doors because of their performances and it is a great thing that we have so many people who are performing so consistently and are hungry to play Test cricket," Kohli said.
"I am sure in the future wherever the opportunity presents itself, they will get a chance as and when," he said.
Rohit Sharma's first audition as a Test opener did not go very well as he fell for a two-ball duck to South Africa's Vernon Philander in the practice match for Indian Board President's XI.