KEY POINTS

  • Sachin Tendulkar has backed Mayank Agarwal to open in Tests for India
  • For the first time, Agarwal has been named in India's all squads
  • India and Australia are set to play first ODI in Sydney on Friday

Former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has named opening batsman Mayank Agarwal as a sure-shot starter for Team India ahead of their Test series against Australia.

India and Australia are set to lock horns in a full-fledged series, including three ODIs, three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is), and four Tests, starting Friday. For the first time in his career, Agarwal has been named in all the squads, courtesy to his recent stellar performance at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 in the UAE. Along with K L Rahul, Agarwal formed a formidable opening pair of the tournament. He finished as the second leading run-scorer of Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) with 424 runs from 11 matches after Rahul, who finished IPL 2020 with the most runs – 670 runs in 14 games.

While Agarwal may have to fight with the likes of Shubman Gill and Rahul for the opening slot in limited-overs, Tendulkar believes the former will definitely open for India in the Test series.

"Mayank, I know, is a confirmed starter because he has scored big runs and if Rohit is fit and available, then he should be there. Between other guys (Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul), that will be the management's decision as they would be knowing who's the form man," Tendulkar was quoted by local daily Hindustan Times as saying in an interview

The 29-year-old first played for India in 2018 when he replaced Rahul as India's opener for the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). He made his One-Day International (ODI) debut earlier this year when India toured New Zealand. Unlike the red-ball format, Agarwal failed to create an impact immediately in the ODIs as he managed only 36 runs in three matches against the Black Caps.

Having played 11 Tests over so far, Agarwal has amassed 974 runs at an average of 57.29, including three centuries and four fifties.

Sachin Tendulkar Sachin Tendulkar, pictured in an exhibition match in 2014, has taken up the challenge of promoting cricket in the United States. Photo: Getty Images

Speaking about the World No. 1 Australia's batting line-up, Tendulkar added that it looks much better this time than the 2018-19 series, which was won by India.

"Smith, (David) Warner, and (Marnus) Labuschagne will be a factor and I am confident that the Indian team will leave no stone unturned as far as preparations are concerned. These two seniors back in the team and also with Labuschangne in there, it makes it a much better batting unit. It will be a bit more competitive series and I am sure India is ready for it," added Tendulkar.