Five uncapped India players, across formats, will be in line for their debut on their tour to Australia. Aadya Sharma takes a look at the chances of each of them at earning their maiden appearance.
Few things are as exciting as watching a raw, upcoming talent hold their own in foreign territory. India’s tour to Australia, set to begin soon after IPL 2020, will be a clash between some of world cricket’s biggest names, but will also give an opportunity for uncapped India players to make their mark. Only one of them is yet to play an international game, while the rest have represented in only one or two formats.
Mayank Agarwal (T20Is)
Indian fans have been habituated to seeing Mayank Agarwal exclusively in the Test whites for the last couple of years now. The 29-year-old is a formidable force in domestic white-ball cricket too, having broken into the scene with punchy performances back in IPL 2011.
The new and improved Mayank, a thoughtful yet expressive batsman, can keep the tempo up in the powerplay while sticking largely to orthodox play. However, he is unlikely to be the first-choice opener in the shortest format, assuming Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul likely pad up to face the new ball. There will be a temptation to slot Mayank in, though, given his rousing form alongside fellow opener Rahul for Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2020.
Varun Chakravarthy (T20Is)
A left-field choice for the Australia tour, some would say. In an incredible story that continues to surprise, Chakravarthy, so far, has played just 12 T20s and one first-class match but earned his maiden India call-up ahead of more established names.
Uncapped players with an IPL five-wicket haul:
— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) October 24, 2020
The selection comes on the back of impressive returns in IPL 2020, where the ‘mystery spinner’ has consistently operated with control and guile, picking up the season’s first five-wicket haul. However, given the spin options in the squad, it’s unlikely that Chakravarthy will get a go – Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar seem to be the first three picks. While Chahal is India’s premier white-ball spinner, Jadeja and Sundar edge ahead due to their all-round skills.
Shubman Gill (Tests)
After months of wait, the time could finally be ripe for Shubman Gill to earn his maiden Test cap. Gill’s fluent batting style has so far been restricted to domestic cricket and IPL, with his ODI debut last year amounting to just two games. He travelled with the Indian contingent to New Zealand earlier this year, but with Rohit Sharma out of the mix this time, the big break could land his way.
Yet, it remains to be seen if India throw the youngster directly into the deep end, or stick to the tested combination of Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal, with KL Rahul, the most experienced of the four, also eyeing an opening spot.
“I was waiting for the Indian senior team to be announced, and I expected to be selected for at least one of the squads”
Was Shubman Gill unlucky to miss out?https://t.co/7vAWLm6t41
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) July 24, 2019
Navdeep Saini (Tests)
The 27-year-old quick’s rise through the ranks has been meteoric and there’s no reason why it should not continue with a maiden spot in the Test team. Over the last year or so, Navdeep Saini, the white-ball bowler, has given enough evidence of his fiery pace, unafraid to look the batsmen in the eye. It’s the sort of package that Virat Kohli would be tempted to unleash at Australia in a bid to fight fire with fire.
Jasprit and Mohammed Shami’s selection will leave the third seamer’s slot available, but Saini can be expected to pip Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj, adding the extra zing to the attack. And what better place than Australia for a budding quick bowler to make an impression with the red ball.
After a spectacular international debut, Navdeep Saini's "raw pace" catches the attention of Virat Kohli and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.https://t.co/hfPvWD8eBL
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) August 4, 2019
Mohammed Siraj (Tests)
An earnest, hard-working cricketer, Siraj, like Saini, has been part of India’s limited-overs setup, but is yet to earn a Test spot. He might not match Saini’s pace, but extracts early swing and can be expected to send down overs on end, a holding role that India will look to fill in Ishant Sharma’s absence. At times, Siraj has been criticised for being erratic in T20s, but is well suited for the red-ball format, having impressed in first-class cricket over the years, becoming Hyderabad’s highest wicket-taker in the 2016/17 Ranji Trophy season (41 wickets in nine games). However, the wait might continue, as India are likely to prefer Saini or Umesh ahead of him.