Virat Kohli hints at Shubman Gill’s India debut in New Zealand series
The Indian team has a settled line-up but there still are openings for backup players.
Updated - Jan 23, 2019 11:51 am
Team India got off to a good start in the first ODI against New Zealand in Napier on Wednesday, bowling the hosts out for 157 after Kane Williamson won the toss and elected to bat. The five-match series will be India’s final outing overseas ahead of the World Cup in England and Wales in May-July and Virat Kohli’s men will try to make the most of the conditions that have resemblance with those in England.
India brought back Ambati Rayudu and Kuldeep Yadav who did not play the last ODI against Australia in Melbourne while Vijay Shankar, who along with Shubman Gill, joined the squad as replacements for under-fire Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul, also played.
The question that is doing the rounds now is whether 19-year-old Gill will also make his debut for India in this series? The talented Punjab batsman made his first-class debut only in late 2017 and rose through the ranks really fast to inch closer to a place in the senior team.
India are now zeroing on the core team that will play in the World Cup and that makes a new debut look improbable. But captain Kohli gave a slight hint at Shubman’s debut in the ongoing series ahead of the first match of the series.
You don’t want to be too rigid
Although the Indian batting line-up stands reserved for players, Kohli indicated that a few players could be tried in the series against the Blackcaps, which makes Shubman’s debut a probability.
“Also to try a few players here and there and see how they react to different situations or different positions in the team. We are open to doing that as well. You don’t want to be too rigid because you want to be flexible in your mind and in your preparation to be able to competitive during a big tournament like the World Cup,” Kohli said in a pre-match press conference.
Rayudu, who was being thought of as No.3, failed to do anything special in the two ODIs he played in Australia and a lot will depend on how he fares against the Kiwis.
India’s chief selector MSK Prasad also said in a recent interview that Shubman was ready for international cricket, as his India ‘A’ Rahul Dravid felt, and that the batsman is comfortable both as an opener and a middle-order batsman and he was being seen as a reserve opener in the NZ series.