Ravindra Jadeja, who suffered a thumb injury during the Australia tour, is likely to be ruled out for at least a part of the upcoming Tests against England. A look at the possible options in his absence for the series.
The absence of Ravindra Jadeja is likely to be a major part of the selection discussion for India ahead of the upcoming series against England at home. A brilliant bowler and fielder, Jadeja’s contributions with the bat over the last couple of years have made replacing him with a like-for-like player close to impossible.
Replacing him with a spinner seems to be an idea that could work, although there are a few all-rounders the selectors could back. Here’s a look at possible replacements.
Having picked over 400 first-class wickets, Shahbaz Nadeem is unlucky to have played just one Test match for India in all these years. He made a Test debut against South Africa in 2019 and bowled ahead of Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin in the first innings, returning with four wickets in the Test. As a left-arm spinner, Nadeem could be the ideal candidate to replace Jadeja in the bowling attack. He is in reasonably good form too: in the last Ranji Trophy season, Nadeem picked up 25 wickets at an average of 21.12, his best bowling average since the 2015/16 season.
— BCCI (@BCCI) October 19, 2019
The off-spinning all-rounder is a superstar in domestic cricket, having scored truckloads of runs and taken plenty of wickets through the course of his 123-match first-class career. Purely on the basis of his role, Saxena is the closest among the available options to replace Jadeja. He has 6,334 runs and 347 wickets across 15 seasons of first-class cricket. In the last three seasons, Saxena has nine scores of fifty or more and as many five-wicket hauls. At 34, time is running out for Saxena, but as a replacement player for Jadeja at home, India might not possibly find a better fit.
In 2016, a finger injury put Jayant Yadav’s Test career on pause, soon after he made history by becoming the first Indian No.9 to hit a Test hundred, against England. The off-spinner has played just 15 first-class matches since the beginning of 2018 and has slightly fallen down the pecking order in terms of India’s spin-bowling options. While he has good career numbers, his recent form and the presence of a similar kind of spinner in Ravichandran Ashwin pegs back Jayant’s chances.
— BCCI (@BCCI) December 11, 2016
A left-field choice in the Test side, Yuzvendra Chahal, India’s mainstay in white-ball cricket, might actually prove to be decent pick considering his international experience. The leg-spinner has, time and again, expressed his desire to improve and play more red-ball cricket in recent years. Chahal has played just 31 first-class matches in his career, but could be included as a third spinner and used as a wicket-taking option after existing options in Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav.
Yuzvendra Chahal (Mid Day):
“For me, Test cricket is very important. Even last year, I played a few first-class matches. I enjoy playing red-ball cricket. Whenever I get a chance (to play Test) I have to be ready to perform.” #Cricket
— Subhayan Chakraborty (@CricSubhayan) January 13, 2021
Rahul Chahar has played just 17 first-class matches to date, but already has seven five-wicket hauls and a pretty good bowling strike-rate, making him a genuine wicket-taking option for India. At 21, the leg-spinner could be a worthy investment for the future. In his last first-class match for Rajasthan, Chahar returned with a five-wicket haul, running through the Delhi lower-order. That could indeed be the supporting role he might be asked to fulfil if picked.
Part of India’s limited-overs outfits from 2014 to 2017, Axar Patel seems to have brought a distinct change of late, which was evident during IPL 2020 with his variations in pace. Prepared to toss the ball up rather than darting it in every delivery, Axar showed he has become a more versatile spinner from the time he last played for India. He has stood out in his recent first-class matches as well, picking up 27 wickets in the 2019/20 season at an average of 24.07, his best in any Ranji Trophy season since 2013/14.
What’s prettier? 💙 pic.twitter.com/cSEyvAoGV3
— Washington Sundar (@Sundarwashi5) December 15, 2020
Used as a net bowler in Australia after featuring in the T20I series, Washington Sundar’s quick progress over the last few years could see him potentially bag a Test cap soon, despite his limited experience in first-class cricket. A handy lower-order batsman, Sundar could also be used in a similar role to that of Jadeja in the batting line-up.