Hardik Pandya vs Karun Nair: 'Fifth bowler' or 'sixth batsman, who should be picked for 1st India-England Test?
Hardik Pandya and Karun Nair - both cricketers are yet to make Test debut and one of them is likely to make it to the playing XI for first Test against England at Rajkot.
New Delhi: As the first Test of five-match series between India and England kicks off on November 9, one question which the Indian think tank might be pondering over is the selection between two cricketers – Hardik Pandya and Karun Nair.
Both cricketers haven't played Test cricket and on Sunday, without revealing any details about the team selection, Indian coach Anil Kumble backed both the players.
Kumble was full of praise for Pandya, who has proved a point for Men in Blue in limited-overs cricket, and said his success led to his selection for the traditional format.
"Hardik is an extremely talented player. Even when he first came into IPL, he showed what he was capable of. Yes, the shorter format is different but we have all seen the potential that Hardik has. Whether it is a short glimpse in a T20, or whether when he bowled at Dharamsala (3 wickets) or batted at Delhi (30 plus runs). That's why we have backed him to get him in the Test squad," Kumble said.
Pandya's selection for the Test series came as a surprise for many as he is yet to cement his spot in limited-overs cricket.
When asked about Nair, who could be a possible choice as the sixth specialist batsman for the Indian team, Kumble was equally positive in his response.
"Karun has done all hard yards in domestic cricket. He has scored runs heavily, regularly and consistently. There was some talk about him not getting runs in Australia for India A but what we are looking at is consistency. That's why he was a part of New Zealand Test squad. After that he went back to Ranji Trophy, got those runs, hundreds. It has opened an opportunity for Karun now that Rohit (Sharma) is injured," Kumble said.
Not to forget, England were the last team to win a Test series on Indian soil when they came from behind to triumph 2-1 in 2012. Alastair cook was in sublime form in that series where he led from the front by hitting three consecutive centuries. It remains to be seen whether the left-hander can replicate the same form in the upcoming series.
India are currently the top-ranked side in Test cricket and they have won four consecutive Test series under the captaincy of Virat Kohli.
The first Test is scheduled to be played at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot from November 9.