After losing the fourth Test match in Southampton, India have lost the ongoing series against England. In the five-match series, India are trailing by 1-3 and the fifth and final Test at Oval will be their chance to end the series on a high note. It will be a huge task for skipper Virat Kohli to unite his team after another disheartening defeat in Southampton.
The biggest problem for India throughout the series has been the flop show of openers whether it's Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan or KL Rahul, they all had failed miserably against English bowling attack. Vijay was dropped from the team after third Test and was replaced by youngsters Prithvi Shaw and Hanuma Vihari in the squad. Dhawan was also dropped at Lord's after a dismissal show in the first Test but later he made his comeback in the third Test where he had a few good starts but couldn't capitalise on them.
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The only opener who played in all four Tests is 22-year-old KL Rahul. However, Rahul too had nothing much to show on this tour. His timing against swing bowling has been below par and he found himself beaten many a time by the bowlers. There are very high chances that Rahul will sit out at the Oval Test as visitors will like to experiment with young players like Prithvi Shaw or Hanuma Vihari.
According to reports, Shaw is more likely to replace Rahul, so that means Vihari will again have to wait for his much-awaited debut. But will it be fair to a player who has an average of 59.79 in first-class cricket?
There's no doubt that Shaw is an exciting talent and has been touted as the next Sachin Tendulkar but the key factor here is that he is just 18 years old and has a lesser amount of first-class experience as compared to Vihari. Although the Maharashtra-born batsman has excelled in his 14 first-class matches with an average of 56.72, this time Vihari must get his due for performing well for so long.
Talking about the batting position, Shaw is the opener while Vihari is more of a middle-order player, so that makes the 18-year-old the prime candidate to replace Rahul. The only possible way for Vihari getting a chance is to tweak the Indian batting order a little bit. Cheteshwar Pujara, who performed well in the third and fourth Test, could be used as an opener, which can create a place for Vihari in the middle order. Pujara has opened the innings for the Indian team on past few occasions and has faired well.
So it will be interesting to see who will get picked over whom in the fifth and the final Test at Oval.