NEW DELHI: Senior India batsman KL Rahul on Monday was ruled out of the third Test against England due to his incomplete recovery from a quadriceps strain, which had sidelined him for the second match in Visakhapatnam.
In his place, Devdutt Padikkal, the promising left-handed batsman from Karnataka, renowned for his stellar performance in the first-class season, has been included in the squad.
“KL Rahul, whose availability for the remaining three Tests was subject to fitness, has been ruled out of the third Test against England in Rajkot. Mr. Rahul has reached 90 per cent of match fitness and is progressing well under the supervision of the BCCI Medical Team,” the BCCI said in a press release.
Rahul will extend his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru with the aim of making a comeback for the fourth and fifth Tests. The ongoing series stands tied at 1-1.
Previously, the selectors had provisionally included both Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja in the squad, pending clearance from the BCCI’s medical team.
“KL Rahul hasn’t yet reported in Rajkot. Ravindra Jadeja, the local boy has linked up with the team. It was always a case of subject to fitness and BCCI medical team is still not confident that he is match fit,” a senior BCCI source told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
In his most recent Ranji Trophy match, the 23-year-old Padikkal scored 151 with the chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar watching his knock from the stands.
Padikkal has been in excellent form this season. Having started with a 193 against Punjab in the opening game, he struck 103 against Goa.
Besides his exploits in Ranji, Padikkal also scored 105, 65 and 21 in his three innings for India A in the two unofficial Tests against England Lions.
Coming back to Rahul, the 31-year-old batter’s extended break raises a serious question about whether the senior India players and the BCCI’s medical team are giving proper picture about the injury status of certain players.
“If the BCCI’s medical team knew in first place that Rahul’s quad injury is as serious as it looks, why in the first place was he kept in provisional squad. And why is the player sending wrong signals by posting videos of his batting on Instagram stories,” a senior BCCI official asked.
Another senior player, who was recently told that he would be dropped for his poor form, pulled out on pretext of multiple injuries, something that the board hasn’t even mentioned.
The case of Ishan Kishan is even more curious as he hasn’t even spoken to his home state unit on whether he would play a Ranji Trophy match or not.
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With Rahul ruled out of the third Test and possibly fourth, the doors could open for Sarfaraz Khan in the middle-order now that Shreyas Iyer has also been dropped.
However, there will be more selection conundrum if Jadeja takes his rightful place in the XI.
Axar Patel has batted well in the two Tests so far and Kuldeep Yadav was the second best Indian bowler in Visakhapatnam after Jasprit Bumrah.
As far as the keeper’s slot is concerned, time is running out for KS Bharath with Dhruv Jurel breathing down his neck, but the former could still get one last chance in Rajkot.
India’s updated squad for the third Test: Rohit Sharma (C), Jasprit Bumrah (VC), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel (WK), KS Bharat (WK), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd. Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep, Devdutt Padikkal.
(With inputs from PTI)