Former India off-spinner Murali Karthik has said India can play Karnataka opener Mayank Agarwal in place of captain Virat Kohli or KL Rahul in the second Test of the ongoing series against West Indies, starting October 12.
Karthik insisted that India can afford to rest Kohli, considering the way the West Indies were comprehensively outplayed inside three days in the first Test in Rajkot. He also pointed out the importance of trying different players before the big tour of Australia, which begins in November.
Notably, Mayank was handed a long-awaited Test call-up for the ongoing two-Test series against the Caribbean side after his record-breaking performances with the bat in the last domestic season.
However, the 27-year-old did not make the playing XI as the hosts decided to field a strong playing XI.
India started as the overwhelming favourites but West Indies' insipid performance, especially with the bat has caused disappointment and frustration in the cricket fraternity with several former cricketers questioning the visitors' inability to even pose a challenge to Kohli's team.
Debutant opener Prithvi Shaw, captain Kohli and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja hit centuries and the spin trio of Jadeja, R Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav reigned supreme as India clinched their biggest Test win — by an innings and 272 runs inside three days against the West Indies in Rajkot.
'India can win the series without Kohli'
"That [playing Agarwal] was something that I was thinking about. You should look at what you're trying to get from this series. You're looking for players for Australia," Karthik told Star Sports India.
"Did Virat Kohli have to play? You can possibly win this Test series without Virat Kohli. The way he was rested for Asia Cup," he added.
"There are certain players who play only Test match cricket. You don't want people like Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma to be missing out.
"Mayank Agarwal is somebody who has been picked. Are you looking at him for Australia? If you're looking at him, would you want to have a go in Test match cricket here? Otherwise, I don't think they have to change anything.
"If they have that view, possibly give him a chance. You can possibly rest Rahul. He has obviously done well for India. Yes, he missed out in this Test. But if you want to play an opener in place for an opener, then it has to be Rahul who has to make way for Mayank. Maybe Ishant can come in for someone.
"I was actually asking Virat to sit out. He is a champion player. Against West Indies, no disrespect to them. When you see a team like that playing at this level, then Mayank Agarwal is possibly one option which you can look at in place of Virat or Rahul."
India headed into the ongoing series after having lost a five-match series in England 4-1. In the aftermath of the overseas defeat, the Asian giants decided to drop Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan after the veteran openers' failures in the Old Blighty.
Shaw and Agarwal were handed maiden call-ups but the former got the nod ahead of the latter for the first Test.
While teams wouldn't be looking at changing a winning combination, West Indies' ordinary show might tempt the Indian team management into making quite a few.
As Karthik insists, Agarwal might get a chance in Hyderabad while pacer Ishant Sharma may make the playing XI if he manages to recover in time from an injury he suffered in England.