India will look to move on from the Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane-era as they play the first Test under Rohit Sharma’s leadership. The team faces Sri Lanka in the first Test of a two-match series, starting March 4. 

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Who replaces Rahane and Pujara? The two will miss India’s series against Sri Lanka and the best No 3 and No 5 options for Rohit Sharma seem to be Shubman Gill and Hanuma Vihari. However, Shreyas Iyer’s brilliant form at home keeps him in the mix. 

One more talking point is Virat Kohli playing his 100th Test at Moahali. The former India skipper will look to get his  much-awaited 71st international ton in the series against Sri Lanka. 

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Kohli is expected to fit in between the two youngsters. Since Gill is raring to go, head coach Rahul Dravid will perhaps like to use him as a middle-order batter, who can also be an enforcer if the situation demands.

There is a distinct possibility that Gill might be used at number three behind Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal.

“I believe Shubman is India’s best bet at number three. Yes, he has opened but Mayank is there alongside Rohit and Shubman has the game to bat at that number,” former national selector and Test opener Devang Gandhi told PTI.

Gandhi further added that  the team management might be inclined to try him at No.3 is because when we fast-tracked him into India A system. 

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“Also having already opened in Tests, as No.3 he can also play the new ball well and start moving the game with his repertoire of strokes. You don’t want to get bogged down and with Gill, he can start pushing the envelope,” Gandhi explained.

However, Rishabh Pant, who is the highest run-scorer for India in 2022, can be promoted to No 5, Vihari coming in at No 6. 

“If you see our top-order, Mayank, Rohit, Shubman and Virat are all right handers. It’s better if at No.5 we have a left-hander to get the left-right combination going followed by Vihari at No.6 and Ravindra Jadeja, again a left-hander at No.7. It could be the way forward,” Gandhi feels.

Possible Team Combination: Rohit Sharma (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hanuma Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin (fitness)/Jayant Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj.