Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal are both making their debuts as openers in the Hamilton ODI against New Zealand. (Photo Credit: News Nation/Getty)
Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan's injuries have opened the door for Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal in the three-match ODI series against New Zealand. Rohit Sharma's calf injury during the fifth Twenty20 International at the Bay Oval ruled him out of the entire tour of New Zealand and Shikhar Dhawan's continued struggles resulted in the inclusion of Shaw and Agarwal in the ODI side. In the first ODI between New Zealand and India, the hosts won the toss at Seddon Park and chose to bowl. With Tom Latham leading the side in the place of the injured Kane Williamson, Virat Kohli's side also featured changes and it included debuts for Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal.
The debuts for Shaw and Agarwal, who will open the batting in the Hamilton ODI, is not new for Indian cricket. This is the first time in 44 years that ODI openers will be making their debuts. In February 1976, during the Christchurch ODI, Dilip Vengsarkar and Parthasarthi Sharma made their debuts. Sharma was bowled by Richard Collinge for 6 and Vengsarkar was run out for 16 as New Zealand won the match by nine wickets. Sharma would go on to play only two ODIs and five Tests while Vengsarkar established himself as one of the greats in the Indian team, playing 116 Tests and 129 ODIs. In Tests, Vengsarkar scored 6868 runs at an average of 42 with 17 centuries while in ODIs, he averaged 35 with just one century.
If one ignores the 1974 ODI which was India's first-ever against England in Leeds, Sunil Gavaskar and Sudhir Naik opened the batting. In 2016, Karun Nair and KL Rahul both made their debuts in the ODI series against Zimbabwe and Rahul scored a century on debut while Nair was out for 7.
Shaw made a comeback into the Indian Test team for the two-match series against New Zealand while Mayank Agarwal replaced injured Rohit Sharma in the ODI squad. Shaw, who last played for India in October 2018, returns to the Test side after Rohit was ruled out of the series due to a left calf muscle strain. The two-Test series begins in Wellington on February 21. Incidentally, Shaw was included in the ODI side after Dhawan's injury.
Prithvi Shaw has been in great form in the recently concluded series between India A and New Zealand A. (Image credit: Getty Images)
Shaw, who had made a century on Test debut against the West Indies in October 2018, had last month received a maiden ODI call-up for the New Zealand series. After serving an eight-month doping ban last year, Shaw showed no signs of rustiness and was instantaneously amongst the runs in domestic cricket with the double hundred against Baroda being the highlight. Shaw has already been in New Zealand for more than two weeks with the A side and smashed a 150 against New Zealand XI in his first innings on the tour.
His India U-19 teammate Shubman Gill has expectedly retained his place in the Test squad following a match-saving double hundred for India A against New Zealand on Sunday. Both Shaw and Gill are openers but the former is expected to open alongside Agarwal in the first Test at Basin Reserve. Gill, who smashed the double ton batting at number four, can also make the eleven as a middle-order batsman.