Rohit Sharma as Test opener, higher Yo-Yo Test mark under Ravi Shastri’s new term
Rohit Sharma has never opened in Tests in 27 matches so far. (PC: AFP)

Ravi Shastri‘s term as India‘s head coach was extended to two years with the fresh term beginning with the home series against South Africa and according reports, the former India international will try and push the case for Rohit Sharma in India’s Test squad as an opener alongside increasing the minimum criteria for clearing the Yo-Yo Test.

As per a report in Bangalore Mirror, Shastri’s second innings will have emphasis on fitness and team’s opening combinations in Tests. The incumbent Test openers – KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal – averaged 25.25 and 20.00 in the two-match Test series against West Indies that concluded recently.

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While Rahul failed to go past the 50-run mark in four innings with a best of 44, Agarwal’s top score was 55, but had two single digit scores to his name as well. With Hanuma Vihari returning from the Caribbean as the highest run-getter of the series and Ajinkya Rahane too having a solid outing, the doors are shut for Sharma to make a comeback in the middle-order.

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The report adds that Sharma will most likely be asked to open the innings with Rahul becoming the fall guy. Rahul has been battling inconsistent form since his last Test hundred at the Oval in September 2018, registering seven single digit scores and has failed to go past the 50-run mark in 12 innings.

On the other hand, Agarwal, only four Tests old has shown a good account of himself with three fifty plus scores in seven innings. Sharma, a limited-over behemoth, has failed to translate his white-ball form to red-ball since his debut in 2013. He had played in the Melbourne Test last year after India dropped openers Murali Vijay and Rahul, bumping up Vihari and handing debut to Agarwal.

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Sharma, slotted in at No.6, made an unbeaten 63 and five, but was not considered for the fourth and the final Test and later for the West Indies Tests as well.

During his stuttering 27-match Test career Sharma has managed 1585 runs at 39.62 with three hundreds and ten fifties to his name. He had a great start to his Test career scoring 177 during his debut Test in Kolkata and followed it up with 111 in Mumbai – both against West Indies. However, that 177 remains his highest Test score till date.

Interestingly he has never opened in Tests. The 32-year-old has played four matches at No.3 scoring 107 runs at 21.40. In the reminder of his matches, Sharma has played in the middle-order. All of his Test centuries have come at No.6, a slot that now belongs to Vihari for the time being.

Yo-Yo Test

The report also stated that Shastri is keen to increase the minimum criteria of the Yo-Yo Test for the Indian cricket team to 17 from the existing 16.1. The Yo-Yo test has been widely regarded and internationally accepted method to assess the fitness of a sportsperson.