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In Bumrah's absence, Akash Deep in line for coveted Test cap

February 22, 2024 19:24 IST

IMAGE: With Jasprit Bumrah rested, Akash Deep could make his Test debut during India's fourth Test against England in Ranchi. Photograph: BCCI/X

Uncapped pace bowler Akash Deep has emerged as the frontrunner to partner Mohammed Siraj in the fourth Test against England after he was seen sweating it out during optional training in Ranchi on Thursday.

While the 27-year-old right-arm pacer bowled full tilt alongside his Bengal teammate Mukesh Kumar at the nets on Wednesday, he had a long batting session on the eve of the Test, with only five other Indians turning up for practice.


India have been forced to hand debut caps to Rajat Patidar, Dhruv Jurel and Sarfaraz Khan so far because to the absence of Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, and with pace spearhead Jaspit Bumrah too being rested for the Ranchi Test, Akash Deep could also be in line for the coveted Test spot.

"Anybody who gets into the Indian team has to be a special cricketer," the home team batting coach Vikram Rathour said of Akash Deep, who was drafted into the India squad after taking 12 wickets in three matches against the England Lions.

"He (looks) like a really good bowler who has done really well in domestic cricket. He has got decent pace, bowls good line, looks really good."

The conditions in Ranchi are expected to be overcast and much cooler than the other three venues so far, which may bring seamers into the mix before the cracks open up at the JSCA Stadium Complex.

In such a scenario, Akash Deep's pace and in-dippers can come in handy.

If Akash Deep gets into the playing XI on Friday, he will become the 313th Indian to don the India Test cap.

The other pace-bowling option, Mukesh Kumar, who was released ahead of the third Test at Rajkot, is back in contention for the fourth Test. He went without a wicket in the first innings of the second Test at Visakhapatnam, bowling seven overs and conceding 44 runs. In the second innings, he took the wicket of England tail-ender Shoaib Bashir.

Kumar's lacklustre performance in Vizag makes a case for Akash Deep to be included for the Test in Ranchi.

England have already announced their XI, recalling Ollie Robinson in place of Mark Wood. Robinson will pair up with stalwart James Anderson. Shoaib Bashir, Tom Hartley and part-timer Joe Root form the visiting team's spin attack.

During the optional practice, India had it easy with only Shubman Gill, R. Ashwin, Akash Deep, KS Bharat, Washington Sundar and Devdutt Padikkal turning up for the nets.

While Ashwin was busy checking the pitch along with Rahul Dravid and other members of the support staff, Gill took throwdowns from the local bowlers.

India lead the five-Test series 2-1.

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