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India v England 2024

Kohli’s rare absence, the Iyer question, end of Pujara? Takeaways from India’s squad

India announced their squad for the last three England Tests today
by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

India announced their squad for the last three Tests against England today (February 10) and here are the takeaways from the team announcement.

India’s squad for the last three Tests: Rohit Sharma (c), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul, Sarfaraz Khan, Rajat Patidar, Ravindra Jadeja, KS Bharat (wk), Dhruv Jurel (wk), Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah (VC), Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep

Virat Kohli misses rare Test series

Kohli has been vocal about prioritising Test cricket and has led the way, playing 40 of the 43 bilateral Test series that India have been involved in since his debut (including one-off matches). The series that he has not played since making his debut are: India’s tour of England in 2011, the one-off Test match against Afghanistan in 2018 and the ongoing matches against England at home.

Kohli also played 18 successive Test series since missing the Afghanistan match.

Has Shreyas Iyer been dropped?

A day before the Test squad was announced, it was reported that Iyer was headed to the National Cricket Academy after complaining of back and groin pain. A day later, BCCI’s squad announcement did not mention the latest update on Iyer even as footnotes for other injured players KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja were mentioned.

This raises doubts over whether Iyer was actually injured or was dropped instead. The Kolkata Knight Riders captain was living on borrowed time in the Test squad following a string of low scores that sees him average 17 since the start of 2023. Iyer is also yet to cross 35 in his last 12 innings. While his woes against short-pitched bowling are well-documented, his recent struggles against spin aggravate the problem. With an in-form Sarfaraz Khan waiting in the wings and Rahul expected to return from injury soon, time seems to finally be up for Iyer.

Jadeja, Rahul return – almost

Jadeja, who suffered a hamstring injury in the Hyderabad Test, and Rahul, with a quad strain, were ruled out of the second match and will be available for the remaining games, but subject to fitness. The two players have a long-standing history of injuries, which resurfaced again during the first Test.

New faces come and go

Akash Deep is the latest to be handed a maiden call-up to the Test team during the ongoing England series. The Bengal quick, who has picked 103 wickets in 28 first-class matches at an average of 23.18, joins Sarfaraz Khan as the other uncapped player in the side currently. India have also picked the likes of Rajat Patidar, who made his Test debut in Visakhapatnam, Saurabh Kumar and Avesh Khan during the series.

While Patidar and Sarfaraz stay on, Saurabh and Avesh have been released from the squad. Sourabh, considered a replacement for Jadeja, has not been considered with the all-rounder named in the team, while Avesh has been replaced by another quick in Akash without being given an opportunity.

Is this the end of the road for veterans?

Despite India’s batting order looking brittle and India’s fast bowling department, barring Jasprit Bumrah, lacking experience, the reluctance to go back to either Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Umesh Yadav indicates India have started to look past them.

While Rahane has not been in the best of forms in the ongoing Ranji Trophy, Pujara brought up his 62nd first-class hundred on Friday and is now the third-highest-run scorer in the tournament. Umesh, who has an excellent home record in Tests, has picked up 19 wickets in seven innings but India have preferred giving Akash a go instead.

Pujara and Umesh last played a Test for India in the final of the World Test Championship, while Rahane played two more matches against the West Indies.

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