Team India is set to blood in Gujarat all-rounder Axar Patel straight back into the playing XI for the second Test match against England beginning in Chennai on Saturday (February 13). Axar, who was set to make his Test debut in the first Test, was ruled out at the last moment due to a knee injury.
The left-arm spinner returned to training a couple of days back in Chennai. “Axar Patel has recovered completely and is now available for selection for the 2nd Test in Chennai against England to be played from Saturday, 13th February. The all-rounder had complained of pain in his left knee and was ruled out of the first Test,” the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said in a statement.
Axar has been picked for the four-Test series against England due to an injury to all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who in all likelihood has been ruled out of the entire series.
Nadeem and leg-spinner Rahul Chahar had been added to the Indian Test squad after Axar’s injury with Nadeem going on to play his second Test, almost two years after his first.
“The All-India Senior Selection Committee have now withdrawn Shahbaz Nadeem and Rahul Chahar from the main squad and added the duo back to the group of standby players,” the BCCI statement said.
Captain Virat Kohli had said India’s back-up spinners Nadeem and all-rounder Washington Sundar could not provide adequate support to their frontline bowlers. In 39 first-class matches, Axar averages 35.42 with the bat and has 134 wickets at an average of just over 27.
Considering Axar’s batting abilities, the hosts may be tempted to bring attacking left-arm unorthodox spinner Kuldeep Yadav into the playing XI in place of Sundar. The second Test in Chennai becomes critical for Virat Kohli’s side as a defeat would end India’s hopes of qualifying for the inaugural World Test Championships final in June.
India Test squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Vice-Captain), KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Md. Siraj, Shardul Thakur
Standby players: K S Bharat, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Shahbaz Nadeem, Rahul Chahar, Priyank Panchal
Net Bowlers: Ankit Rajpoot, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Warrier, Krishnappa Gowtham, Saurabh Kumar
(with Reuters inputs)