India had headed Down Under with Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal as the first-choice opening combination after Rohit failed to recover within time to reach Australia for the first two Tests while Gill remained as the back-up option. Poor batting technique left Shaw on the bench after the opener in Adelaide while Mayank was dropped after the second Test.
Gill was picked after Shaw was dropped and was joined in by a fit-again Rohit in the third Test at the SCG. Gill scored 259 runs in three Tests with two half-centuries while missing a maiden ton by nine runs. Rohit scored 129 runs in two Tests with one half-century. Together, the pair also scored two back-to-back half-century opening stands in the last two Tests which played a pivotal role in India winning the series.
"We are looking forward to giving Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill a long rope as openers. We look forward to good starts from them in all the Test matches we play," Kohli said during the pre-match virtual conference ahead of the four-match Test series against England which begins from February 5 onwards in Chennai.
This implies Mayank, despite his Bradman-eque batting average of 99.5 at home in Tests, now becomes India's third-choice opener. Shaw, on the other hand, has been dropped from the first two Tests against England with a further doubt on his return amid the cancellation of the Ranji Trophy campaign for this season.
Kohli further assured the position of Rishabh Pant as the wicketkeeper for India in the Chennai opener, after his breathtaking fourth-inning knocks in back-to-back Tests in Australia.
"Yes, Rishabh (Pant) will start tomorrow. He had a massive impact in Australia and is in a good head space and we want to continue with him. He's come along nicely after the IPL and he's worked hard in his fitness and his game. We were very happy to see him flourish," Kohli said.