Axar or Kuldeep? Former India selectors end debate for third spinner against Australia with 'straightforward choice'

Feb 04, 2023 07:57 PM IST

Ahead of the Nagpur Test match between India and Australia, two former India selectors have given a rather blunt take on the debate as they named a "straightforward choice".

One of India's biggest selection headache for the much-awaited Border-Gavaskar Test series will be picking the third spinner between Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel. Sunil Joshi, who was a part of last selection panel, had recently backed the chinaman for the role, however, the debate continues for the team management as India gear up for the Nagpur opener on February 9. Ahead of the Test match, two former India selectors have given a rather blunt take on the debate as they named a "straightforward choice".

Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav
Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav

When Australia had last visited India, back in 2017, Kuldeep had made a memorable Test debut for India in Dharamsala, picking a four-wicket haul in India's magnificent win in the match and in the series. However, injuries and team combination have denied him much opportunities in the side as he managed only one Test appearance at home in the last five years - against England in Chennai in 2021.

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Kuldeep's recent heroics include a record-scripting five-wicket haul and a valiant contribution with the bat down the order in India's win against Bangladesh in the Chattogram Test last December. He was however dropped from the next Test match owing to team combination.

Axar, on the other hand, who has made as many appearances for India, has picked 13 wickets more than Kuldeep (47).

"For me, there is no debate that Axar Patel should be India's third spinner with (Ravichandran) Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja. The form in which he has been and on wickets that will be on offer, Axar is a straightforward choice," former national selector Jatin Paranjape told PTI.

His former colleague Devang Gandhi too put his weight behind Axar for the role of third spinner with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja being the obvious primary choices.

"Look, if you have track that starts breaking right away, then Axar is a better choice than Kuldeep. Kuldeep will release the ball from the back of his hand and hence flight more," said Gandhi.

"On tracks where the ball starts turning square, he will have a propensity to get hit. Also, when he tries bowling flatter, he tends to go a little shorter. In case of Axar, on turners, he hits the immaculate length.

"Also being a left-hander, he will add variety in the lower middle-order," he added.

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