News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » Cricket » Who Will Replace Jadeja, Rahul?

Who Will Replace Jadeja, Rahul?

January 31, 2024 07:41 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

IMAGE: Captain Rohit Sharma, Head Coach Rahul Dravid and Bowling Coach Paras Mhambrey have their task cut out ahead of the second Test, starting on Friday, February 2, 2024. Photograph: BCCI

After defeat in the first Test along with injuries to key players, India are looking like a team bereft of ideas going into the second Test against a confident England, starting on Friday.

India's last Test series defeat at home came against England in 2012 and it already looks like history is about to repeat itself.

Following their amazing come-from-behind victory in the series opener, the momentum is firmly with England, who left the Indian bowlers shell-shocked with their 'Bazball approach'.

After all, how many teams have bounced back to win a Test in India after conceding a 190 run lead?

And how many times have the Indian spinners looked so clueless on a Day 3/4 turning track?

It has gone from bad to worse for India as two of their key players, Ravindra Jadeja and K L Rahul, both of whom scored a fifty in the first Test, are out with injuries, while Virat Kohli is also unavailable for the second Test in Visakhapatnam.

A desperate India have brought in Sarfaraz Khan, Washington Sundar and Sourabh Kumar as replacements hoping to bounce back in the second match.

Sarfaraz has been the most consistent batter on the Indian domestic circuit, having scored a mountain of runs in recent seasons of Ranji Trophy. He comes into the team with some good recent form, having hit 161 and 55 in the two practice games for India A against England Lions.

He boasts of an impressive tally of 3,912 runs in 45 first class games at an average of 69, with 14 centuries and 11 fifties, including a best of 301 not out.

Sarfaraz's strike rate of 70 is also a factor with the Mumbai batter capable of scoring runs quickly in red ball cricket and has been quite dominant against spin in domestic cricket.

Sundar is a handy all-rounder and has already played some good knocks in Test cricket with three fifties in four games, while taking six wickets, while left-arm spinner Sourabh is also very good with both bat and ball -- having picked 5/104 and scored 77 for India A against England Lions last week.

Rajat Patidar though looks the frontrunner to replace the injured Rahul at No 4 given he was originally called up as Kohli's replacement ahead of the series.

Wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav could come in for Jadeja in another major change to the bowling line-up.

The injury to Rahul has handed an important lifeline to the struggling Shubman Gill, who looks like to retain his place despite struggling for runs in Test cricket and Shreyas Iyer could also get another opportunity.

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma attempts the reverse sweep during the first Test. Photograph: BCCI

The focus will also be on Rohit not only to get back among the runs but how he handles his spinners and his fielding placements.

India are unlikely to make wholesale changes in the batting by including both Patidar and Sarfaraz in the must-win second Test and could stick with the experience of Gill and Iyer for another match atleast.

Similarly, in the bowling it remains to be seen if India consider going in with four spinners and just one pacer in Jasprit Bumrah.

Mohammed Siraj bowled 11 just overs in the first Test and if conditions remain the same, India could look at replacing him with either Sundar or Sourabh.

Sundar is a good choice as he is quite capable with the bat and could make up for Jadeja's absence in the batting line-up. He is highly rated as a spinner in white ball cricket for his ability to keep things tight especially in T20 cricket, where his economy rate is below seven.

Kuldeep has played just eight Tests since making his debut in 2017 and his last match in the format was two years against Bangladesh in Chattogram in December 2022. Having fine tuned his bowling in recent years, Kuldeep is a very difficult spinner to pick and could an ideal foil to counter England's strategy of sweeping everything.

After seeing how India disintegrated against spin in the first match, England are eyeing an interesting team line-up for Vizag.

The visitors are kind of taunting India by stating publicly that they might leave out Mark Wood and play an all-out spin attack by including Shoaib Bashir, who missed the first Test due to visa issues.

This England team under Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes have drastically changed the way Test cricket is played and it won't be a surprise if they field five spinners in Visakhapatnam, including Joe Root, and once again force India to play out of their comfort zone.

IMAGE: England's match-winners Tom Hartley and Ollie Pope celebrate a wicket during the first Test. Photograph: BCCI

Tom Hartley wrecked the Indian batting line-up with a seven-wicket haul in the second innings on the same pitch where the Indian spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Jadeja and Axar Patel had taken six wickets between them in England's second innings. Part-time spinner Root also made telling contributions with the ball by taking five wickets in the match.

The result of the contest will hinge largely on how India's spinners fare against the England batters, who have all mastered different varieties of the sweep shot and used them to great effect in the first game.

The great Geoffrey Boycott stated in his column for The Daily Telegraph: 'This India team are ripe for the taking and England have a golden chance to be the first side to topple them on their own patch for 12 years.'

However, you write off a team like India at your own peril especially in their home conditions. They just need a good session with the bat or ball early in the second Test and they could prove to be a different beast altogether!

My Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (captain), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar, Shreyas Iyer, K S Bharat (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj/Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav.

Who do you think should be part of India's playing XI for the second Test against England?

Please select your team from the list below and do post your playing XI in the message board below:

Get Rediff News in your Inbox: