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Former India opening batsman Gautam Gambhir is the latest from the cricketing world to back Rohit Sharma for the Test opener’s role.

Speaking to Sports Tak, Gambhir said Rohit would be his preferred choice to open the innings with Mayank Agarwal in Tests. India will lock horns with South Africa in the three-match Test series starting early next month.

The World Cup-winning player’s comments came a day after former India captain Sourav Ganguly said that the limited-overs specialist deserves an opportunity to open in Test cricket.

Rohit has played 27 Tests, but is still not a regular in the playing XI. He has mainly batted at No. 6, averaging 54.57. But Hanuma Vihari’s success has made it tough for him to get into the middle-order slot.

While Vihari was the top run-getter in West Indies with 289 runs in 2 Tests, KL Rahul’s lack of form has become a cause of worry for the team.

“I completely agree with Sourav Ganguly. India have experimented with their openers in the past. Virender Sehwag opened for India and so did Deep Das Gupta. Rohit is far better than Deep Dasgupta. If you give him six matches at home, I am sure he will be able to do well overseas. If you ask him to open straight away in overseas conditions, that will be difficult,” Gambhir was quoted as saying by Sports Tak on Friday.

“I will prefer Rohit over Rahul and have a youngster as a backup opener. How long can you persist with someone, it is unfair on someone who is scoring in domestic cricket.”

“Rahul can come back if he has the runs. If Rohit is there in the squad, he should be in the playing XI as well, else you can you can have someone else in the squad. If he doesn’t play now, it will be difficult for him after a couple of years to play Test cricket again,” he added.

The former left-hander also felt that the 32-year-old had the experience and the technique to succeed in the red-ball format. That could well make him the X-Factor for Indian cricket in Tests.

“It will be difficult to make the switch. Red ball swings more but Rohit has that technique and experience. He knows how to play the new ball. But you have to give him a fair run. You did try with Yuvraj in one Test but I hope that doesn’t happen with Rohit. You never know he could be the X factor for this team.”

Rohit Sharma was in stupendous form during the 2019 World Cup, scoring five hundreds. He featured in the Test squad, but was not made a part of the playing XI in Antigua and Jamaica.

India went on to complete a 2-0 clean sweep and rose to the top spot in the World Test Championship table.