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India Vs West Indies: Prithvi Shaw to make his Test debut in Rajkot, open innings with KL Rahul

India Vs West Indies: Prithvi Shaw to make his Test debut in Rajkot, open innings with KL Rahul

Rajkot, Oct 3: The Indian cricket team management has on Wednesday (October 3) confirmed that teenage prodigy Prithvi Shaw is set to open alongside KL Rahul in the opening Test against the West Indies, starting October 4.

Taking a leaf out of England and Australia cricket teams, India started the practice of naming their final 12 on the eve of every game. With this declaration of naming the final 12 ahead of the game has more or less settled the debate on the playing eleven.

Selection isn't in my hands: Kohli

Shaw, who earned a maiden call-up midway into the England tour but did not get a game, has been preferred over Mayank Agarwal and Hanuman Vihari for the series opener. Agarwal, who opens for Karnataka, had broken into the team after scoring tons of runs in domestic cricket and at India A level.

Earlier, while addressing media persons, on the eve of the Test match, Kohli had said the upcoming two-test series will be a good learning curve for the youngsters as it throws them an opportunity to present their contention.

"Someone like Hanuma Vihari, Prithvi Shaw or Mayank Agrawal have been brought in because they've done well in domestic circuit consistently. They should look at it as an opportunity -- as pressure. It is a great chance for them to cement their place and play for a long time," Kohli said.

What is also clear now is that India will go in with five specialist bowlers and the most likely 12th man will be Shardul Thakur. Three specialist spinners -- Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav -- have been picked and the pace pairing will be of Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav.

Hanuma Vihari, who had a made gritty 56 on debut at The Oval against England, has also been dropped.

Wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant, who slammed a magnificent century in the last Test, will bat at six while Jadeja will be expected to make vital lower-order contributions in the absence of injured all-rounder Hardik Pandya.

The West Indies series presents a good opportunity for Shaw to make his case for the upcoming Australia tour as pointed out by captain Virat Kohli, who said the top-order is the only area where experimentation is needed. It will be a dream come true for Shaw when he walks out to bat here.

The 18-year-old's India debut will hardly be a surprise to those who felt the supremely talented bastman was destined to play for the country ever since he started scoring bagful of runs in school cricket in Mumbai. And when Shaw led the India U-19 to the Word Cup title in New Zealand earlier this year, it was only a matter of time before he graduated to the highest level.

Another strong indicator of his rare talent is his first-class record. In 14 games, he averages 56.72 and has made seven hundreds and five half-centuries including a ton on Ranji Trophy debut in November 2016. And almost a year later, he became the youngest to reach three figures on Duleep Trophy debut.

There was an intense debate on the opening combination going into the first Test since India had dropped Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan for young blood. The picture on whether Shaw or Agarwal will open alongside Rahul only became clear after Kohli's pre-match press conference here.

Both the uncapped openers had batted in the nets on Tuesday and even on Wednesday morning the mystery remained as Shaw took gentle throw downs. Local hero Cheteshwar Pujara and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane spent the maximum time in the nets. It all became clear with the announcement of final 12 as India took the cue from the likes of Australia, who name their final eleven before the start of the match.

(With inputs from PTI)

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    Story first published: Wednesday, October 3, 2018, 13:31 [IST]
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