IND vs ENG: “Openers already in England deserve to play first”

Former Pakistan opener Salman Butt has backed Kapil Dev’s statement that sending additional Indian players to England would be an insult to those already present in the Test squad.

Reports have been floating around that the Indian team management is keen on having the services of Prithvi Shaw and Devdutt Padikkal for the upcoming Test series against England following Shubman Gill’s injury. A stress fracture in his shin has all but ruled Gill out of the entire Test series.

Speaking on his YouTube channel, Butt said that asking for additional openers for the England Tests does not make sense as India already have options present in the squad. He stated:

“I agree with Kapil Dev. He is a legend of the game and a well-respected voice. When you have selected three or four openers for a tour and if one of them is not fit, the first chance must obviously go to those who are already present in the squad. Anyways now, because of COVID, a bigger squad travels with the team. There are much more than 14-15 players in the team. So, you have your contingent there.”

Butt further elaborated on the matter:

“If you call someone from outside the squad, those already present can’t be at ease mentally. Obviously, it all depends on who you show your confidence in. But, I would say, the openers who are already in England deserve to play first, because they were the ones selected in the first place.”

Speaking to ABP News, Kapil Dev had previously opined that there was no reason for the Indian team management to ask for extra opening options. The former Indian captain pointed out:

“I don’t think there is any need for it. There should be some respect for the selectors too. They have picked a team and I’m sure it wouldn’t have happened without their (Shastri and Kohli) consultation. I mean, you have two such big-opening batsmen in KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. Do you really need a third option? I don’t think it’s right. The team that they’ve picked already has openers so I think they should be the ones to play. Otherwise, it’s insulting for the players who are already in the team.”

Why the Indian management is seeking a replacement for Gill in England

According to reports, the Indian management is apprehensive about drafting reserve opener Abhimanyu Easwaran into the main squad since he is uncapped and is likely to struggle against the likes of James Anderson.

KL Rahul, meanwhile, is being considered as a middle-order batsman and not an opener. A source was quoted as telling TOI:

“They (BCCI) sent just 24 cricketers to England, of which four are standbys. Abhimanyu Easwaran has done well in First-Class cricket but is it fair to make him debut against James Anderson, Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad. KL Rahul is not being considered as an opener but in the middle-order. So, if Gill’s injury demands a replacement, and if there’s time to fly in one, what’s the harm?”

The India-England Test series will get underway next month, with the first match set to be played in Nottingham from August 4.

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