« Back to articlePrint this article

Who Will Replace Bumrah in Ranchi Test?

February 21, 2024 07:54 IST

IMAGE: India will aim to win the fourth Test in Ranchi to seal the series and continue their unbeaten run at home stretching back to 2012-2013. Photograph: BCCI

Fresh from their record-breaking 434 run victory in the Rajkot Test, India will take some stopping when they play England in the fourth Test, starting in Ranchi, on Friday, February 23, 2024.

England's ultra-aggressive Bazball tactics failed big time as they were comprehensively outplayed with both bat and ball.

Except for Ben Duckett (153), no other England batter was able to get past the 50 run in the match as all of them perished trying to play attacking shots against the Indian bowlers.

India were handicapped in their first innings when senior spinner Ravichandran Ashwin had to rush to Chennai because of a family emergency soon after taking his 500th wicket.

Mohammed Siraj led the way with 4/84, while Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja bagged two wickets each as England collapsed from 224/2 to 319 all out -- losing their last eight wickets for 95 runs on a good batting wicket at the Niranjan Shah stadium.

Not surprisingly, England went for their shots in the second innings after being set a huge 552 for victory. No. 10 Mark Wood (33) was the only England batter to get past the 20 run mark in another dismal batting showing by the visitors.

For the Indians, Yashasvi Jaiswal continued his dream run with a blistering double century -- his second of the series, smashing 214 not out from 236 balls, while debutant Sarfaraz Khan hit his second fifty of the game to bat England out of the contest.

With Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Ravindra Jadeja also among the runs, things will get only tougher for the England bowlers in Ranchi, which could again serve up a sporting wicket with the batters expected to make merry in the first couple of days.

The only sore point in an otherwise clinical performance by the Indians was the twin failures by Rajat Patidar, who managed just five runs in the two innings in Rajkot. It remains to be seen if India continue to back him or hand Devdutt Padikkal his Test debut with K L Rahul again unavailable on fitness grounds.

IMAGE: Devdutt Padikkal could become India's fourth debutant of the series if he is called up to replace Rajat Patidar. Photograph: BCCI

Padikkal was called up as Rahul's replacement ahead of the third Test. He was picked after a consistent run with the bat in the last few weeks, including a century and fifty for India 'A' against England Lions and two centuries for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy.

The 23-year-old left-hander has scored 556 runs in four Ranji matches this season at an average of 92, with three centuries.

Rahul was a surprise exclusion for the fourth Test on fitness. BCCI had said ahead of the Rajkot Test that Rahul had reached '90 per cent of match fitness' and was progressing well under the supervision of their medical team.

It is not clear as to what went wrong as the Board gave no further details on Rahul's latest status, just merely mentioning that 'His participation in the final Test match in Dharamsala is subject to fitness'.

Rahul, who missed the second and third Tests after complaining of pain in his right quadriceps, has been one of India's most consistent batters across formats. He was the only centurion for India in the drawn two Test series in South Africa which was played on very tough wickets in December.

In a major decision, India rested Vice-Captain and premier pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah as part of workload management. Bumrah is the leading wicket-taker in the series with 17 wickets at an incredible average of 13.64. However, he has bowled 80.5 overs over the course of the past four weeks and was given a deserved break ahead of the fifth Test to be played in Dharamsala from March 7 to 11.

Bumrah single-handedly turned the second Test in India's favour with a sensational display of reverse swing bowling, taking 6/45.

With Mohammed Shami yet to recover from his injury, India don't have a capable replacement in their squad and will have to choose between Mukesh Kumar and the uncapped Akash Deep.

India could toy with the possibility of going in with four spinners by bringing one of their spin all-rounders Axar Patel or Washington Sundar into the playing XI for the Ranchi Test.

Sundar played a vital role in India's Test series triumph in Australia in 2020-2021, hitting a half-century and taking four wickets, as the visitors shocked Australia by three wickets at the Gabba in Brisbane to claim the series 2-1.

In the next home series against England in 2021, he hit two half-centuries in three matches but hasn't featured in the Test squad in the last three years as he struggled with injuries.

Axar has been one of the preferred spinners for India in home conditions. He played in the first two Tests, taking five wickets and contributed with the bat as well with 133 runs, but had to make way for the returning Jadeja for the the Rajkot Test.

IMAGE: Can Ben Stokes-led England bounce back after their hammering in Rajkot? Photograph: BCCI

England will have a huge sigh of relief not having to square up against Bumrah in Ranchi. They will believe that the absence of a quality bowler like Bumrah is their best chance to get back in the series after their two poor outings with the bat in Rajkot.

It will be interesting to see if England persist with Bazball at all costs or fine-tune their tactics and play according to the situation.

The visitors will be contemplating hard and long on how the tables have turned since their thumping victory in Hyderabad. With all of India's top batters regaining their form, it has been tough going for the young England spin attack.

Overall, the England spin trio of Tom Hartley, Joe Root and Rehan Ahmed bowled a total of 153 overs in the Rajkot Test, picking up seven wickets across the two innings, while giving away 561 runs combined as they were taken apart by Jaiswal & Co.

In contrast, spin played a big role in England's victory in the series opener in Hyderabad when their four-man spin attack claimed 17 wickets of the 20 wickets in 165.2 overs bowled.

In the Vizag Test, the four England spinners accounted for 15 wickets in the two innings after sending down a total of 155.3 overs.

On the other hand, India's spinners have worked together as a group quite well on pitches that have been good for batting for most part of the last two matches.

Jadeja took seven wickets in Rajkot to take his tally to 12 from two Tests and Kuldeep has taken eight from as many games, while Ashwin has 11 in three matches.

Probable XI" Rohit Sharma (captain), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar/Devdutt Padikkal, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel (wicket-keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar.

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

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