India hopes to set right the opening problem
India has coped with the lack of a settled opening pair, put up reasonable totals on the scoreboard and won seven of the 10 Tests it has played this calendar year.
While England struggled for four years to find an opening partner for its captain Alastair Cook, after the retirement of Andrew Strauss, India has suffered this year, with five sets of openers going to bat against the West Indies, New Zealand and England.
Hopefully the home team would be in better shape as regards its opening batsmen when Australia arrives for a four-Test series next year.
The last few months has seen India rely upon the three main openers in M. Vijay, K.L. Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan and bringing in old hands, Gautam Gambhir and Parthiv Patel as replacements.
The right-left combination seemed to be working well with Vijay and Dhawan hitting their straps with a 283-run stand against Bangladesh at Fatullah in June 2015. Since, there has been a considerable drop in form; and this has been noticeable in the home Test series this year. India has seen the following pairs open the innings; Vijay-Rahul, Rahul-Dhawan, Vijay-Dhawan, Vijay-Gambhir and Vijay-Parthiv.
On Tuesday, India’s head coach Anil Kumble was quite practical in assessing the situation and said: “Ideally yes, you would want a settled opening pair, but I think under the circumstances we have done really well.
“The injuries are not in our control; injuries are part and parcel of the game. Unfortunately, Rahul got hit while he was fielding in Visakhapatnam and that is how he got the injury. Parthiv came in the last game and did a fantastic job at the top. I am sure Rahul will have a hit today and he will be fine; let’s see how it goes.
“For New Zealand, we had three different opening pairs, even in the West Indies we had an injury to Vijay and then Shikhar got injured against New Zealand. Then Gautam had that freak injury in Indore, but he could bat. So I think there is something happening with the openers in terms of injury, I hope that doesn’t go on. There has to be some stop at some stage.”
While Cook is most likely to open with left-hander Keaton Jennings (the England captain’s 11th opening partner in four years), Rahul will walk out with Vijay on Thursday.