India’s draw against New Zealand has throw open the debate surrounding the home team’s combination for the second Test in Mumbai starting Friday. With Virat Kohli returning and questions lingering over the form of certain Indian cricketers, such as Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma, a few changes are on the cards for the Test match starting at the Wankhede Stadium.
The impending return of Kohli means that one of the middle-order batters has to make way for the India captain, and debutant Shreyas Iyer’s century in the first innings and a fifty in the second has made sure it wouldn’t be him. Surely, the axe has to fall on either Rahane on Pujara. Former India wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta feels the same, saying that given how Iyer performed in his debut Test, it would be really tough to ignore him with the series on the line.
“Ideally speaking, only on the basis of performance, it would be difficult to rest Shreyas Iyer. Hundred in the first innings, fifty in the next, both coming at crucial times. I find it difficult to not play hi,” the former India keeper said on his YouTube channel.
“The main choice is that Rahane is rested, I know he was captain last match, but still. It would be a straight swap at No.5. Another case is if Saha does not play, can Bharat open and keep wickets. In that case, you can play all of Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, and Iyer. But, in that case, one of the openers will have to make way. That is kind of an out-of-the-box option.”
As far as the bowling goes, Dasgupta explained how Mohammed Siraj is likely to replace Ishant Sharma in the final Test of the series. Ishant went wicketless in Kanpur, but with the youngster having recovered from his injury, which the keeper himself observed, the 27-year-old is expected to be back in the Playing XI partnering Umesh Yadav with the new ball.
“I saw him bowl just a while ago on the ground, bowling was not an issue anyway. I think his non-bowling arm was injured and had stitches. So, there is a good chance that Siraj is fit. If that is the case, then Siraj might come in place of Ishant,” said Dasgupta.
Highlighting India’s strong bench strength, Dasgupta reckons Mayank Agarwal can be tried out at No. 3 in the time to come, while also stressing that Shubman Gill can also be a candidate to be batted in the middle-order.
“In the middle order, there are several players in the pipeline. There is Shreyas Iyer, then Shubman Gill, who I feel is more suited to the middle order in red-ball cricket. Then there’s Hanuma Vihari. Another option is one of the openers playing at No.3. Mayank Agarwal plays spin well, he can be considered at No.3. You need someone at No.3 who can play seam and spin well. No.3 becomes trickier than No.5 at this point. Even Ruturaj as well,” he said.