Captain Virat Kohli said on Wednesday India are hoping for a settled top-order as the world No1 Test team prepare to hand teenage opener Prithvi Shaw his debut against the West Indies in the first Test at Rajkot.
India have promised a lot in 2018 but have failed to deliver. Despite possessing arguably its finest bowling attack ever, India lost 2-1 in South Africa at the start of the year before collapsing to a 4-1 thrashing in England. The results could have gone their way but the fact is India have lost a record six Tests already in a calendar year.
The two-match Test series against the West Indies is an opportunity to get some confidence back into their Test cricket while also preparing for the tour of Australia which begins 10 days after the conclusion of the Caribbean series.
The first target is to sort out the top-order with veteran Murali Vijay and regular opener Shikhar Dhawan both omitted. Eighteen-year-old Shaw, who led India to the U19 World Cup title earlier in the year, will partner KL Rahul at the top.
Since his first-class debut last year, Shaw has hit seven tons in 14 matches and is being talked about as a long-term prospect.
“I think the top order getting cemented with these two Test matches, that’s what we are looking at,” Kohli was quoted as saying by AFP. “These guys are new, so they will take a bit of time to get into it. But they definitely have the skill set.
“They should look at it as an opportunity and not think of pressure, because they’re very young, and it’s a great chance for them to cement their place and play for a long time.”
Shaw was selected ahead of the heavy-scoring Mayank Agarwal and one-Test old Hanuma Vihari.
Kohli, who skipped the Asia Cup which was won by the Rohit Sharma-led India, said time off between tours will be help players stay fit ahead of the World Cup in 2019.
“I am feeling rejuvenated again. It was mental and physical both because of the intensity of the two tours, both South Africa and England,” said Kohli. “I definitely needed the break because my back went once in South Africa then it went again (in) England. Looking at the World Cup I think these things are very important to consider, to give players ample rest and opportunity to train well and come back stronger.”
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