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Sarfaraz Khan or Devdutt Padikkal? Kuldeep or Axar? KS Bharat vs Dhruv Jurel: India's selection headaches for 3rd Test

Feb 13, 2024 10:01 AM IST

With Rahul ruled out and questions unanswered on Ravindra Jadeja's fitness for the 3rd Test, India's team management will have a hard time figuring out their XI

India's concern over the batting lineup for the third Test against England deepened after senior batter KL Rahul was ruled out on Monday as he failed to recover from the quadriceps pain he incurred during the Hyderabad game. With Rahul missing out and questions unanswered on Ravindra Jadeja's fitness and subsequent availability for the Rajkot game, India's team management will have a hard time figuring out their XI for the match where they will aim to take lead against England for the first time in this five-match series.

Will Ravindra Jadeja start?

KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja in action during the first Test against England in Hyderabad

BCCI's press release on Rahul being ruled out of the third Test had no update on Jadeja, whose participation has been subject to clearance from the board's medical team, although it has been reported that he linked up with the team in Rajkot on Monday.

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If Jadeja is fit, he straightaway walks into the playing XI, implying that one between all-rounder Axar Patel and left-arm leg-spinner Kuldeep Yadav will sit out. Given their performance in the second Test in Visakhapatnam, Kuldeep, who was the more economical among the spinners, and picked up a crucial three-fer in the first innings, is likely to maintain his spot in the XI.

If Jadeja misses out, there will be no changes in the spin department, with Kuldeep, Axar and Ravichandran Ashwin keeping their spots.

Will Sarfaraz Khan make his debut?

When Shreyas Iyer was removed from the India squad for the last three Tests against England, following his poor run of form in format, Rahul was expected to take over the role in the XI. But with the veteran batter getting ruled out, Sarfaraz Khan is the likely candidate for the role, which implies that the youngster is all set to earn his maiden Test cap in Rajkot, having waited a long time for this opportunity with consistent scores in the Ranji Trophy over the last few seasons.

India, meanwhile, also have Devdutt Padikkal, who was named as Rahul's replacement in the squad. The left-hander has been in ravishing form in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season, where he scored 193 against Punjab in the opening game, before hitting 103 against Goa. One of his more recent knocks, where he notched up 151, was scored in the presence of chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar in the stands. Besides his exploits in Ranji, he scored 105, 65 and 21 in his three innings for India A in the two unofficial Tests against England Lions.

Will KS Bharat retain his spot?

With Rishabh Pant not around, Ishan Kishan out with a break, and fairly no other big competition for his spot, Bharat had a big opportunity to cement his spot as India's primary wicketkeeping choice. However, in seven Tests so far in his career, he has scored just 221 runs at 20.09 with not a single half-century. And in the ongoing series, he has managed only 92 runs in two matches.

With batting being a concern for India, Dhruv Jurel could be handed his debut cap on Thursday. The youngster has scored 790 runs in 15 first-class matches at 46.67 with a century and five fifties. More recently, he scored a half-century each against England Lions in January and South Africa A in December in respective four-day matches.

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