After keeping the series alive with a fine win in the third test at Trent Bridge, India have announced their squad for the fourth and fifth tests at the Rose Bowl and the Oval. Opener Murali Vijay is the big omission, with the selectors calling talented youngster Prithvi Shaw into the squad. Hanuma Vihari, who has been scoring runs for fun in the domestic circuit, has also been named in the squad, with Kuldeep Yadav sent back home to play in the quadrangular against South Africa A and Australia A.
Does Shaw’s inclusion mean the end of Murali Vijay’s test career? The Tamil Nadu opener was left out of the third test XI after featuring at both Edgbaston and Lord’s, and now finds himself out of the squad completely. His returns overseas have been meagre- in the five tests against South Africa and England that he’s featured in this year, Vijay has only managed to score 127 runs across 10 innings, and six of those ten have been single digit scores. At 34, age is also not on his side.
Youngster Shaw was the captain of India’s victorious U19 side this year and has always been heralded for great things. The selectors consulted India A coach Rahul Dravid before calling up Shaw to the squad, and there are few better judges of youth cricketers than the former. Even if Shaw doesn’t play, he will learn a fair bit from just being in the camp, like South Africa did with Aiden Markram on their tour to England last year.
The pair of Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul managed to put 60 runs together in both innings at Trent Bridge- the first time since 1986 in SENA conditions that India’s openers have stitched together a 50+ partnership in each innings of a test. As seen on the Cover Driving website, the Indian opening slot has effectively been a game of musical chairs since 2016- the world’s No.1 ranked team have tried several combinations, but are yet to land on one that they can rely in all conditions.
The odds on Vihari playing look far less- he’s replaced Kuldeep Yadav, but is effectively there as cover for skipper Virat Kohli, who had some issues with his back in the third test. Kohli showed no major effects in either innings, scoring 97 and 103, and India already have Karun Nair as cover, but the selectors thought it prudent to add the in-form Vihari to the squad.