Tags: England tour of India 2024,
Rohit Gurunath Sharma,
Axar Rajeshbhai Patel,
Published on: Jan 25, 2024
Indian captain Rohit Sharma has admitted that the team management had a tough time in deciding who to pick as the third spinner between Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav for the first Test against England at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. While admitting that the call had been taken, Rohit refused to reveal the name of the one chosen.
Seasoned spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are set to feature in the playing XI for the opening Test against England in Hyderabad, which starts on Thursday, January 25. However, there was a close contest between Axar and Kuldeep for the third spinner’s slot.
At a pre-match press conference, Rohit weighed in on the big debate. He praised Kuldeep as an impact bowler, who has improved significantly in recently times. At the same time, he added that Axar’s proven batting ability in Indian conditions cannot be ignored.
“If the wicket has bounce or if it doesn’t have bounce, he (Kuldeep) still is a factor in those types of conditions because he’s got superb variations. Obviously, he is a very mature bowler now from what he was a few years back,” Rohit was quoted as saying by PTI.
“He’s not played a lot of Test cricket in India because of Ashwin and Jadeja. We’ve seen it in the past as well. With our middle-order (batting), in the past, a lot of us (batters) got an opportunity pretty late. But that’s the reality of it, you can’t hide away from it. But yes, he’s a very tempting option,” the Indian captain admitted.
Reiterating that making a choice between Kuldeep and Axar was not easy, Rohit hinted that the latter might get the nod for the first Test.
“Axar, you know, with his all-round ability, gives us that batting depth. The consistency that he’s shown, playing in these conditions in Test cricket, also is an important factor for us. But it was a headache to decide who it is going to be for us. But I am not going to say who it is,” the 36-year-old commented.
The Indian captain also praised seasoned off-spinner Ashwin as someone who always delivers in Indian conditions and backed him to be at his best against England in the upcoming series.
“Ashwin, obviously, we know his class, we know his quality. Every time he plays the game for us, he tends to impress all of us by a notch (higher). We do appreciate that. Every time he’s gotten an opportunity, he’s made sure to put the team ahead. He’s shown it for a number of years now. So, yeah, I hope this series is no different for him, and he comes out and does what he does the best,” Rohit asserted.
37-year-old Ashwin is 10 wickets away from reaching the 500-wicket landmark in Test matches. He will also complete 100 Tests if he features in all five matches against England.
–By A Cricket Correspondent