Sourav Ganguly: Rohit Sharma can replace KL Rahul as opener in India’s Test team
Rohit Sharma can do the job KL Rahul can't, feels Sourav Ganguly.

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly believes that Rohit Sharma can translate his strong white-ball form into Test cricket, if given the chance as opener in place of the struggling KL Rahul.

Prithvi Shaw’s absence on account of a doping violation saw Rahul retained in India’s Test squad, and after some ODI success during the World Cup in England there was reason to believe he had turned a corner. Instead, Rahul averaged 25.25 during India’s 2-0 Test series success in the West Indies, with a best score of 44.

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He fell to Roston Chase both times during the Antigua Test, after getting starts of 44 and 38. Speaking to reporters at the end of day three, Rahul admitted he was bitterly frustrated at two aborted starts.

KL Rahul dismissal
KL Rahul was bowled for 38 when trying to sweep Roston Chase. (Image: Twitter)

At Sabina Park, he was dismissed for 13 and 6, both times caught behind when pushing at the new ball. These four dismissals in the West Indies mean that of Rahul’s 60 innings in Test cricket, 21 have been between 10 and 49.

In Ganguly’s opinion, Rahul had not done enough to merit a place as Test opener and that Rohit, who scored five centuries during the World Cup in England, should get a chance.

“KL Rahul has flattered to deceive and that creates an opening at the top,” wrote Ganguly in his Times of India column. “I had suggested earlier about trying Rohit Sharma as an opener in Test cricket and I still believe that he needs to be given an opportunity because he is too good a player to be left out in the cold. After a fantastic World Cup, I believe he will be itching to grab the opportunity to open in Tests. With Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari settling in nicely, there is not much left to play around in the middle order.”

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Impressing Ganguly was Jasprit Bumrah, who finished the 2-0 win as the leading wicket-taker with 13 at 9.23 apiece while moving the ball sharply both ways.

Jasprit Bumrah Test ranking
Jasprit Bumrah: “If we win the match I am fine if I don’t get wickets as well.” © AFP

During the first Test, Bumrah claimed the most economical five-wicket hail by an Indian bowler (5/7) to bowl India to a 318-run victory. On day two of the second Test at Sabina Park, his took six wickets which included a stunning hat-trick that was just the third for an Indian bowler after Harbhajan Singh in 2001 and Irfan Pathan in 2006.

(READ: Bumrah most important cricketer in the Indian team: Irfan)

“The revelation has been India’s fast bowling department, especially Jasprit Bumrah,” wrote Ganguly. “The rapid strides he has made and the way he is improving, he is sure to dominate world cricket for some time to come. Not only his speed, but his variation and control of linen and length are worth noticing. He is a threat in all forms of the game and needs to be handled carefully.”

India’s support staff needs to ensure that Bumrah remains away from injuries. Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami have been a good foil for him and with Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini waiting in the wings, the Indian pace bowling department currently has the riches to manage everyone’s workload without affecting the balance of the team. With the current crop of fast bowlers available, India can think of playing on pitches with bounce and pace at home also.”