Why and why not should Prithvi Shaw be dropped for Boxing Day Test
It came as a bit of a surprise when Prithvi Shaw was preferred over Shubman Gill for the Adelaide test. The scepticism was proved right when Shaw's technique allowed him to last for a total of six balls in the match.
The biggest reason why Team India decided to opt for Shaw over Shubman Gill in the opening test match of the 4-match series between Australia and India despite the latter dishing out an impressive display of test match batting in the two practice matches against Australia is that the team had already earmarked Gill as the replacement for Virat Kohli at number 4 after the skipper flew back to India to be present at the birth of his first child.
To add to that, Rohit Sharma is currently under quarantine in Sydney and will be available for the 3rd test match and the team did not want to tinker too much with the existing combination.
Prithvi Shaw had held his place as an opener alongside Mayank Agarwal the last time India played a test match which was against New Zealand. Shaw did not have great returns in the two test matches apart from a half-century. But then, no Indian batsman actually did well on that tour.
In the lead up to the tour of Australia, the batsman had a forgettable IPL season for Delhi Capitals and was out of form in the two practice matches against Australia A as well. However, given that he was the incumbent opener, the team management showed their faith in him.
But the manner in which he was dismissed in both the innings in Adelaide, getting late on the ball and allowing it to sneak in through the bat-pad gap, he has made things difficult for himself. Obviously, he is low on confidence but his problems are more than just his confidence. It is his technique which needs to be changed, and that is not possible within a week.
The team has the option of Shubman Gill who impressed in the two matches against Australia A as well with scores of 29, 43 and 65 in three of his four innings. To add to that, Gill is a much more solid batsman and has the ability to absorb pressure. He averages a brilliant 68.78 in first-class cricket with seven centuries and 11 half-centuries and is raring to go.
At the same time, there is also a school of thought which wants Prithvi Shaw to be given another opportunity. The logic is that either the team should not have tried out Shaw in the opening test match and if the team decided to give him an opportunity, he must be given another chance.
It stems from the belief that a batsman does not become good or bad after just one failure and if he was good enough to make the playing XI for the first test match, he is certainly good enough to keep his place for the Boxing Day test match as well.
To add to that, Shaw has had just five opportunities in test match cricket in which he averages 42.37. This includes a 134 against West Indies in his first-ever knock in the white flannels for India. This is why Shaw's backers believe that you must give any player enough opportunities to decide in his favour or against him which Shaw hasn't got till now.
Where does the 21-year-old go from here on if he is dropped? It will certainly be detrimental for his confidence.
However, the quandary for Team India is that after they capitulated for just 36 in the second innings of the Adelaide test, their lowest-ever total in the history of test cricket, they have to make amends, and they have to do it quickly.
Shaw does not inspire a lot of confidence with his technique, especially against the brilliant bowling trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood who are brilliant at exploiting even the slightest of deficiencies in a batsman's technique.
Hence, it seems likely that Shaw will have to sit out for the second test match with either Shubman Gill or KL Rahul taking his place at the top of the order while the other one will bat at number 4 in place of Virat Kohli.
© Cricket World 2020