India is set to lock horns with Australia in the first Test of the four-match series on February 9, Thursday. Ahead of the much-awaited Border-Gavaskar series, former head coach Ravi Shastri gave his take on the batting lineup of the men in blue. According to him, in-form batter Shubman Gill should be in the playing XI ahead of vice-captain KL Rahul.
Shastri said that vice-captaincy should not guarantee one a place in the playing line-up of the team.
"Shubman or Rahul (selection) depends on the team management, what they think. Obviously, you'd want to go with what you've been doing in the past, but form becomes critical.
"Someone's hitting it real sweet and it's coming out of the centre of the bat. Then, you know, you wake up, and say, 'listen'," Shastri said on the ICC Review on Wednesday.
"I've been watching Gill and Rahul very closely in the nets. If it's a hard call; when I see footwork when I see the timing as to who is batting better. If it has to be Shubman ahead of Rahul, so be it. You know, straight. You have to see that. I won't say that Rahul is the vice-captain so he becomes the automatic choice," he added.
Shastri also gave an overview of the pitch at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur where the first Test will be played.
"If someone asks me what kind of pitch? Expect that. If you lose the toss, expect the ball to turn in the first session of play. That's what I want, and take it from there."
According to Shastri, Team India should have a mindset of beating the Aussies 4-0 as they have an advantage of playing at home.
"My mindset would be, 'How can I beat Australia 4-0 if I'm the coach', which means day one, I want a ball to pitch on leg stump and hit off stump. I want it to rip."
"India should look to win 4-0, we're playing at home. I'm brutal.
I've been on two tours of Australia, I know what's happened," Shastri said.
But Shastri said the team management should not look beyond Suryakumar Yadav and hand him the Test debut.
"At number five, Suryakumar will get the position, because there’s no Shreyas (Iyer). There’ll be talking about, 'can Gill bat at five?’ I think you need the right guy for the right number. At five, when you go there, especially if the ball is turning, then you need someone who is good at playing the right shots against spin.
"Surya demands that position. I think it's straightforward."
India vs Australia: Test Series Schedule
- 1st Test: Feb 09 - Feb 13 at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur
- 2nd Test: Feb 17 - Feb 21 at Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi
- 3rd Test: Mar 01 - Mar 05 at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Dharamsala
- 4th Test: Mar 09 - Mar 13, Monat Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad