If TOI reports are to be believed, the Indian team management isn’t overly impressed with the reserve opener Abhimanyu Easwaran and that has divided the selectors and the management. The management had earlier demanded the inclusion of Prithvi Shaw and Devdutt Padikkal as backup openers.
Ever since the injury to Shubman Gill, reports of India asking for more backup openers for the five-match Test series against England have been doing the rounds. It’s been surprising given India already have Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul in their jumbo squad while Abhimanyu Easwaran is also there with the team as a reserve opener. Not to forget, Hanuma Vihari has also opened before and can come in handy in English conditions as an opener.
However, the team management’s insistence on either having both Shaw and Paddikal or the former stem from the impression that the Bengal opener Abhimanyu Easwaran has left on them. As per reports, he has been scrappy in the practice sessions and deemed not good enough for the great English challenge by the team management yet. Notably, they are also not looking at Rahul as an opener rather, he will be reprising the middle-order role if any. However, the team’s management sudden change of plans hasn’t gone down too well with the selectors.
“The team management has to be clear about its vision. The selectors have always heeded to the team management’s demands when it came to composition of the squad. The team was picked in presence of captain Virat Kohli. The management needed to be clear about its plan when it came to how they wanted to use the players who were picked. Rahul was picked as an opener. If they had change of plans, they should have communicated it clearly,” a BCCI official told TOI.
“Easwaran has been with the team since the home series against England in Feb-March. The team management needs to clarify why they aren’t confident about using Easwaran. Only then a decision can be taken on whether a replacement needs to be sent,” the official added.
The official further said that the side already have four openers, besides, the management and the selectors will need to be on the same page.
“There are four openers still available in England and it was only possible because of the pandemic. Indian teams in the past didn’t have this luxury earlier. They had to make do with 15 players on long tours. This is where the selectors and the team management need to be on the same page and be clear about their plans. Picking 24 players for each series has made the selectors’ job much easier. If they are not sure about 24 players they pick, then it needs to be sorted out soon,” the official added.
It has also emerged that middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari, who had done well as an opener in the solitary MCG Test on the 2018/19 tour, isn’t too keen to bat in the top-order again.
“There’s no doubt that Vihari will be ready to whatever is asked of him to do in a crisis. But he is much happier batting in the middle order,” a source said.