Harbhajan backs Shubman over Shaw for 1st Test against New Zealand

Harbhajan Singh has backed Shubman Gill to open with Mayank Agarwal in the first Test against New Zealand, starting on February 21 in Wellington.

Shubman had scores of 83 and 204 not-out batting in middle-order in the first ‘A’ Test and followed it up a hundred in the second game, showing his versatility at different positions.

Shubman Gill’s stellar show in the recently-concluded India 'A' series is an indicator that he is ready for his Test debut, feels senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.

Shubman had scores of 83 and 204 not-out batting in middle-order in the first ‘A’ Test and followed it up a hundred in the second game, showing his versatility at different positions.

Prithvi Shaw, who is back in the Test squad after 16 months, is also a contender in the playing XI with his equally dazzling repertoire of strokes.

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“Shubman should get his chance since he has been part of the team (as reserve opener) for quite a while without playing any Test match,” said Harbhajan.

Their journeys have been intertwined since the U-19 days but it will be left to skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri to chose one among the two as Mayank Agarwal’s opening partner in the first Test against New Zealand, starting on February 21.

With Rohit Sharma being ruled out due to a hamstring injury and the in-form KL Rahul surprisingly ignored by the outgoing selection committee, India could go into the series with Agarwal, who has so far played nine Tests as the senior opener.

India’s woes could worsen as Agarwal, despite his impressive start in Test cricket, has been in wretched form, bagging a pair in the ‘A’ Test in Christchurch and failing in all three ODIs.

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He also had a quiet couple of Ranji Trophy games. However, Harbhajan feels that Agarwal should continue as the main opener.

“Mayank is a proven player in Test cricket and a top batsman. He understands his game very well. Just because of three ODI innings and a practice game, you don’t drop him. It doesn’t work like that,” Harbhajan explained.

“He has been scoring lots of runs wherever he is playing, so I feel Mayank and Shubman should start in first Test,” he added.

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