First Hour Key for Indian Openers in Australia Tests: Wasim Jaffer

Jaffer, much like Ajinkya Rahane, said that dealing with the pink ball will also be a challenging prospect.

3 min read
Former India opener Wasim Jaffer believes the talented Prithvi Shaw can demolish attacks once he gets going. 

Named after the first batsmen to score 10,000 Test runs, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is India’s return to the longest format this year, and it’s brought with it a few selection headaches; one being the opener’s slot, a position more than familiar to the two statesmen Allan Border and Sunil Gavaskar.

Swing, steep bounce and pace, of course, will be served up with tremendous regularity by the Australian bowlers, as they look to rattle the relatively inexperienced top two, and thwarting that will be crucial towards keeping a hold off the trophy for India.

Former India batsman Wasim Jaffer believes the much talked about second opener’s slot will be a toss up between youngsters Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill. The two-time double centurion for India also believes that the fact that both the youngsters have played some of the Australian attack earlier will benefit them.

“I think it’s a tie between Shubman and Prithvi in my opinion. Prithvi, I think, got some runs, not a lot, but he gives you the promise. Same with Shubman and he played in the warm-up games, he hasn’t played a Test match but he got runs in the warm-up games and he got them really nicely,” an impressed Jaffer told The Quint.

“KL (Rahul) is also not a bad option but I don’t think KL without playing any warm-up game they are looking at him as an opener..”

While on recent form, Shubman has fluent while Prithvi’s gone through a patchy period, Jaffer said the poor string of scores was unfortunate for the talented youngster.

“Sometimes cricketers go through a phase where you try but things don’t happen and it’s unfortunate for him. but when he gets going, he can put any attack to the sword, and I hope if he gets an opportunity he clicks because he is a fine player. He knows how to make big scores. Once he gets going, he can demolish an attack.”

Shaw, who started off his career with a century in his Test debut against West Indies, scored 0, 19, 40 and 3 in the warm-up games as an opener, while Shubman, batting at number 3 in Sydney, scored 43 and 65, and 0 and 29 in the first practice match when he walked out at the top of the order.

Jaffer, the highest scorer in the history of the Ranji Trophy, played 31 Tests for India and scored 7 fifties and 3 centuries, away from home also explained that the openers must be cautious through the first hour.

“Being a Test opener you have to be watchful for the first half hour or hour. They (Australia) are quality bowlers, and they are going to bowl good balls and not give anything away, but you have to have a positive mindset at the same time. if any opportunity arises you have to score runs. And Australian wickets are like that where if you get in you can score big runs,” Jaffer explained.

“Once they get in, they need to look to score big runs. Posting a big score is very important to win Test matches.”

Jaffer, much like India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, said that dealing with the pink ball will also be a challenging prospect.

“Pink Ball will pose a little bit of a challenge because it swings in the twilight time, it is a challenging time for the batsmen when the sun goes down.”

This is the first time India are playing a Pink Ball Test overseas and have played only one game before this when they defeated Bangladesh in Kolkata last year.

“Pink Ball behaves differently in the day and in the night. The Twilight period is challenging for batsmen. When the lights come on, the pace increases off the wicket. With the red ball, the pace does not change. Batting well in that period which is 40-50 minutes is the key,” India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane said ahead of the Adelaide Test.

Will Shubman be handed his Test cap in Adelaide or will the management stick to Shaw, who got progressively better as an opener (0, 29, 43, 65) in the New Zealand Tests earlier in the year? While Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri sort that out, the hosts, too, have their own set of problems at the top of the order with no David Warner (injury) and woefully out of form Joe Burns.

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