With Shreyas Iyer unavailable for the first Test, both Gill and Rahul might get a look in. But there is a chance that the vice-captain might be asked to bat in the middle-order. On whether he would be comfortable with such a change, Rahul asserted that he is willing to bat anywhere for the team’s sake. The recently married cricketer said at a pre-match press conference in Nagpur on Tuesday, “If the team wants to me to bat in the middle, I am ready to do it," when asked about his batting position.”
Asked about the team combination, Rahul agreed that there will be a temptation to play three spinners. He commented, “There will be a temptation to play three spinners because of the turning track in India but we would know the pitch on the day of the game. Not decided on playing XI, tough decision, couple of vacancies are there.”
The Border-Gavaskar Trophy will be significant for India with regard to qualification for the World Test Championship (WTC) final. The hosts need to win at least by a 3-1 margin to keep their hopes alive. Rahul agreed about the importance of the series, "It is a must-win series. When it's India-Australia, it always is. Each team wants to win, it's a big series. I don't think it's any different to any other Border-Gavaskar Trophy we play.
“Yes, there is a World Test Championship (final) there that we all want to play, we all look to play in it. But we also have to take into fact that we have to take one game at a time and remain in the present. We'll try to win the first game here in Nagpur and take it from there,” he added.
India will have some tough decisions to make ahead of Nagpur. They need to pick between KS Bharat and Ishan Kishan as keeper-batter. Also, who will replace Shreyas in the middle-order? There could be a tussle for the third spinner’s slot between Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav.
Rahul said about the team combination, "The Playing XI we decide based on what's the best decision for the team in that Test match. We've done that in the past as well. There have been questions raised why a certain player played when Kuldeep got the Man of the Match against Bangladesh, and didn't play the next match. The only reason behind such decisions is to see what's the best XI for that conditions.”
The first Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy begins at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur on Thursday, February 9.
--By A Cricket Correspondent