After the inaugural World Test Championship final, the Indian team is all set to play a five-match Test series against England starting August 4. The Indian camp is already hit by a couple of injury blows before the start of the series. The young opening batsman Shubman Gill has traveled back to India after being ruled out due to his leg injury.
The list of casualties also includes Washington Sundar and Avesh Khan, as they would not take any further part in the upcoming Test series. The selectors have already announced Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav as replacements who will join the India squad in the UK.
Gill, who opened for India in the WTC Final against New Zealand, was a certainty at the top of the order. However, with him being out of the fray, opens an opportunity for a few players in the opening slot. It will be interesting to see which player is considered to partner Rohit Sharma in the opening position.
Here's a look at 3 replacement players for Shubman Gill in the India Playing XI for the Test series:
1) KL Rahul
KL Rahul has been highly successful for India in limited-overs in the last few years. However, the Bengaluru player hasn't played Test cricket since August 2019. After abysmal tours of Australia and the West Indies, Rahul was shown the way out of the Indian Tets team. On the back of his limited-overs success, Rahul earned back his place in the Indian squad for the tour of England 2021.
In the last couple of practice games, Rahul has registered two centuries since landing on the English soil. He has looked assured of his technique and has spent the most time in the middle among all the batters. The 29-year old is brimming with confidence and has thrown his hat in the ring for a selection in the playing XI.
While most of Rahul's runs have come in the middle-order, a failure for other openers could pave a way for his selection at the top of the order in the later stages of the series.
2) Mayank Agarwal
Another Indian opener who struggled on the overseas tour, Mayank Agarwal is likely to be the replacement for Shubman Gill in the opening slot. Agarwal had a brilliant start to his Test career in India's emphatic series win over Australia in 2018-19. The 30-year old even carried his splendid run of form into the home summer of 2019.
However, post the New Zealand tour of 2019, Agarwal has been in the constant firing lane for his below-average show. However, in the absence of Gill, Agarwal is most likely India's first-choice opener alongside Rohit Sharma. It will be a tough challenge for the right-hander to face the stalwart English duo in their own backyard.
Mayank has scored 1052 Test runs at an average of 46 in 14 Test matches so far.
3) Hanuma Vihari
The Andhra Pradesh captain, Hanuma Vihari is a regular part of the Indian Test squad since his debut in 2018 against England. Vihari had played distinct roles from opening the innings to batting in the middle-order.
His last Test knock against Australia in Sydney received enormous adulation from all corners of the world. After missing out on a spot in the WTC Final, Vihari might feature in the playing XI against England. His selection depends a lot on India's likely playing combination.
While Agarwal and Rahul are ahead in the race for the opening slot, the 26-year old can feature at No.6. If India decides to play a lone spinner along with Hanuma's part-time off-spin, gives him a chance to make the cut in the playing XI.