Akash Deep set for Test debut in Ranchi: Why he is better fit to replace Bumrah | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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Akash Deep likely to make Test debut vs England in Ranchi: Why he is better fit to replace Bumrah than Mukesh Kumar

Feb 22, 2024 07:26 AM IST

According to a report, Akash Deep is likely to make his debut in the longer format for India on Friday.

The rumours became official on late Tuesday night when BCCI announced that Jasprit Bumrah has been released from the India squad for the fourth Test against England. The speculation around India's inevitable move had begun before the third Test, but while Bumrah did make an appearance in Rajkot, he did not travel with the Indian team to Ranchi. BCCI explained: "The decision was taken keeping in mind the duration of the series and amount of cricket he has played in recent times."

Akash Deep is likely to make debut appearance for India in 4th Test against England
Akash Deep is likely to make debut appearance for India in 4th Test against England

The call left India with two options to pick from as the second seamer to Mohammed Siraj - Akash Deep, who was already part of the squad and is yet to make his maiden international appearance, and Mukesh Kumar, who has been added to the India squad for the fourth Test after being released ahead of the Rajkot tie.

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Ideally, Mukesh should be the choice for India to replace Bumrah in the playing XI, given that he was part of the team from the beginning of the series. However, following a quiet show in the second Test in Visakhapatnam, where he visibly struggled on the flat deck against the England batters as he recorded figures of 1 for 70, Mukesh was released from the squad before the third game. His only dismissal was that of No.10 Shoaib Bashir in the second innings.

The Bengal quick, however, bounced back in style to record his maiden first-class ten-wicket haul in the Ranji Trophy match against Bihar on a seam-friendly Eden Gardens track last week. The performance in domestic cricket should earn him a second chance in the Test series against England, but according to a report in Indian Express, Akash is likely to make his debut in the longer format for India on Friday.

Why is Akash Deep a better fit to replace Jasprit Bumrah than Mukesh Kumar?

Firstly, a disclaimer: Bumrah has been one of the best fast bowlers produced by India, ever. In just six innings, he picked 17 wickets at only 13.41, the most by any bowler in the series. Hence, irrespective of what changes India make, they will miss Bumrah's services as it will only be a downsizing of the pace department. Yet, it's also a necessity.

If the South Africa tour last month had taught anything, it was that India need to build solid back-up pace options.

Given his struggle with back injury, Bumrah won't play all of India's matches, with the think tank keen on workload management to keep him fit for key games. Meanwhile, Mohammaed Shami, 33, is nearing the end of his career. Prasidh Krishna, who was given an opportunity in the Proteas series, has fallen behind in the pecking order. Mukesh has yet to prove that he can take the same responsibility as Siraj and Bumrah. Hence, India need to find more options for their pace department.

Despite being a rather bold call, India, who are 2-1 up in the series, are better suited to test Akash's capabilities in Ranchi before Bumrah returns for the series final in Dharamsala. Compared to Mukesh, who is more Shami-like with his upright seam, Akash is quicker and tends to hit the deck harder.

The Bengal fast bowler, who was also part of India's Asian Games squad and the ODI series in South Africa, earned his maiden Test call-up following an impressive show for India A against England Lions, where he picked 11 wickets in two matches at 16.95 and it included two four-wicket hauls.

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