Murali Vijay
Murali Vijay (AFP Photo)

Virender Sehwag has backed the pair of KL Rahul and Prithvi Shaw to open for India during the entirety of the four-Test series against Australia and feels that it will be hard for Murali Vijay to get a game.

Vijay was dropped midway through India’s England tour and was subsequently overlooked for a home series against West Indies. He, though, scored plenty of runs for English county club Essex and following his return to form, made his way back into the Test squad for the Australia tour.

In his absence, India gave debut to Mumbai opener Prithvi Shaw who immediately made impact with a century on debut in Rajkot against West Indies. However, KL Rahul, who struggled during England tour barring the fifth and final Test when he scored an impressive century, failed in both the Tests against Windies scoring 0 and four across two innings.

However, Sehwag feels that Vijay has had his share of chances and should wait before hoping to break into the playing XI again.

“In my opinion KL Rahul and Prithvi Shaw should open. They should be India’s no. 1 [choice for the opening slot]. Both are aggressive and if they give a good start, I think India will do well,” Sehwag told Cricbuzz.

He continued, “If I’m the captain, I will give full series to Rahul-Shaw. Murali Vijay got his chance. Now he has to wait. If somebody flops in eight innings, then I will prefer to give Vijay a chance otherwise I don’t think so. The moment you get dropped from the team, others are waiting. They should get a fare chance to prove themselves. Shaw has proved himself. He’s the future. I am not seeing Vijay playing in Tests in Australia.”
However, Rahul hasn’t been in best of form in 2018. having scored 420 runs at an average of 24.70. But Sehwag feels he has worked upon his shortcomings and will face different conditions than in England where he was repeatedly bowled or trapped lbw.

It was only in the fifth and final Test of the tour that he found his form, scoring a century. “I think he has identified the problem in the last innings in England when he scored a hundred. He was standing outside the leg stump and was aware he was coming across and getting lbw. I’m sure in Australia he won’t face much swing and seam movement. The ball will come nicely onto the bat. He must have identified his problem of not going across the line. I think he’ll score runs. Just needs to show some patience with the new ball and after that he can score runs all through the day because in Australia, first ball and the last ball of the day come nicely onto the bat,” Sehwag said.

While there’s still competition for the opener’s slot between Rahul and Vijay, Shaw has more or less sealed that spot with an excellent start to his Test career. He impressed during India’s practice match in Adelaide hitting a quickfire 66.

Sehwag expects Shaw to do well in the Test series. “When I opened, nobody expected me to do well in Australia. They spoke about my feet not moving, I played too many shots so it’ll be difficult for me to score in Australia but I proved them wrong. I’m sure Prithvi Shaw has a better feet movement than me, so he’ll do well. The only shot he needs to worry about is the backfoot punch. It’s not a good shot in Australia because the extra bounce and movement early on will cause problems. Otherwise, all other shots he can play,” he observed.