Ind vs Eng Test series


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Yadav has to undergo a fitness assessment before linking up with his team-mates

Umesh Yadav has been drafted into India’s Test squad for the Ahmedabad leg of the England series, replacing Shardul Thakur, who has been released to play for Mumbai in the domestic 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy. Yadav, who will undergo a fitness assessment at the NCA before linking up with the Virat Kohli-led squad, is returning to competitive cricket after recovering from the calf injury he picked up during the Boxing Day Test against Australia.

If cleared, Yadav will join the fast-bowling group comprising Ishant Sharma, who is one short of 100 Test appearances, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj.

Meanwhile, Shubman Gill’s presence in the squad might serve as an indication that the forearm injury that didn’t allow him to take the field on the fourth day of the second Test isn’t too serious. As such, India have a stand-by in the form of Mayank Agarwal, who is the third opener. And KL Rahul, who was drafted in for the second Test as a batting reserve, has retained his place.

Two members in India’s squad – Bumrah and Axar Patel – could potentially feature in front of their home supporters at the revamped Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera. A third Gujarat cricketer, Priyank Panchal, who was part of the reserves, has been released to play in the domestic 50-over competition alongside fellow opener Abhimanyu Easwaran, left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and Thakur. Quicks Sandeep Warrier, Avesh Khan and Ankit Rajpoot, and spin twins K Gowtham and Saurabh Kumar now complete the net-bowlers’ contingent, while wicketkeeper KS Bharat and legspinner Rahul Chahar are stand-bys.

Hardik Pandya, who hasn’t played Tests since September 2018, is slowly progressing to bowling at full tilt after recovering from a shoulder surgery, which has forced him play much of his cricket in recent times as a specialist batsman.

The four-Test series is currently tied at 1-1 after two games, both in Chennai. England won the first Test by 227 runs, and India bounced back to win the second by 317 runs.

The result of the next two Tests are of great significance not just for the ongoing series, but the race to take on New Zealand in the final of the inaugural World Test Championship at Lord’s in June. Both the teams are trying to get past Australia’s points percentage of 69.17. India need to win the series, by any margin, so a win and a draw (or two wins) serve them fine. The loss in the second Test, meanwhile, has hurt England, because they can only make the final if they won both the remaining Tests. Australia are in with a shot too – they would be hoping England don’t win both the remaining Tests; a 1-1 or 2-2 draw or a 2-1 England win work great for them.

The third Test of the ongoing series, a pink-ball affair, will start on February 24, and the final one on March 4.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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