Opinion: Why Priyank Panchal is close to breaking into India's Test squad?

Vinay Chhabaria

After Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw, Priyank Panchal can become the newest entrant in the Indian Test team

The Ranji Trophy has been one of the major domestic tournaments in Indian cricket and a lot of young stars have gone on to represent the Indian team at the International level after performing well in the Ranji Trophy.

The stars of the Indian team like Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay, Varun Aaron, Prithvi Shaw, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Abhinav Mukund, Wriddhiman Saha, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, and Karun Nair have all shone in the Ranji Trophy before getting a chance in the Indian team. All of the above players have led their respective teams from the front and are currently representing India in the longest format of the game.

Virat Kohli's men are at the top of the ICC test rankings presently and some credit for this success must go to the Ranji Trophy as it has constantly given talented players to the Indian team. Recently, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, and Hanuma Vihari received their maiden Test caps and the next name in this list could well be the captain of Gujarat's team, Priyank Panchal.

Priyank Panchal has taken over the captaincy of Gujarat from Parthiv Patel

Gujarat has risen in the domestic circuit of late and a lot of people consider Parthiv Patel to be the key man in the state's success. However, it has not only been Parthiv's captaincy that has taken Gujarat to newer heights but also it has been Priyank Panchal's phenomenal consistency with the bat that has inspired Gujarat to glory in the past two years.

Panchal had become the first player from Gujarat to score a triple century in Ranji Trophy when he played a marathon inning of 314 against Punjab in the 2016-17 season. He even registered a double century to his name in that season and had helped Gujarat in winning their first ever Ranji Trophy championship.

Priyank had ended the season with 1,310 runs however, he failed to earn a national call-up due to the presence of KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, and Murali Vijay in the Indian squad. The right-handed Ahmedabad-born batsman did not stop there though as his form continued in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2017 as Gujarat won the 50-over tournament as well that season.

Priyank Panchal has dominated the opposition with his impressive batting performances in the Ranji Trophy

Priyank Panchal made his first-class debut in 2008 and over the 10 years, he has scored more than 5,000 runs in the Ranji Trophy at an impressive average of 48. Panchal has 19 centuries and 30 half-centuries to his name with the majority of them coming in the last three seasons.

The opener had another wonderful run with the bat in 2017-18 as he ended up with a tally of 542 runs with an average of 60.22. He has already bettered his 2017-18 tally this year amassing 887 runs already with four centuries in the group stage of the tournament.

Looking at the recent failures of Indian openers Murali Vijay and KL Rahul, the Indian selectors would love to have this 28-year-old Gujarati open the batting for India in Tests soon. They gave a chance to Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal in 2018 and both the youngsters impressed the fans and critics with their batting performances but they still have a long way to go.

Having Priyank Panchal in the squad will give additional options to Virat Kohli as the Gujarat opening batsman can always be used as the backup opener in case of an injury to any of the regular openers. Panchal has performed consistently in the Ranji Trophy aggregating over 4,000 runs since 2014-15 and very few players have managed to match the right-handed batsman's consistency in the domestic circuit.

The 28-year-old himself expressed his desire to play for the Test team in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda recently.

The team has found its perfect middle order and bowling unit with the opening slots being the only issue for the Indian team. Priyank Panchal can solve the opening conundrum in the Indian Test team if given a chance.