As per well-placed sources in the BCCI that TOI spoke to, the key decision-makers in Indian cricket may have run out of patience with wicketkeeper Bharat, who hasn’t done anything significant in the seven Tests that he has played so far in.
“Bharat’s batting has been well below-par, while his ‘keeping hasn’t been great either. He isn’t making use of his chances. Jurel, on the other hand, is talented, has a good attitude and has a bright future. He has done well for Uttar Pradesh, India A and the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL. Don’t be surprised if Jurel makes his Test debut at Rajkot,” a source told TOI.
BCCI unveils new squad for remaining 3 tests against England, Virat Kohli to miss out
Bharat, by all accounts, has lost a golden opportunity to make a Test comeback. In two Tests in this series, the Andhra man has made 92 runs in two [email protected]. Overall, he has scored just 221 runs in seven [email protected], while not even scoring a fifty. Before this series, Bharat had last played for India in the World Test Championship final (he was out for 5 & 23) against Australia at The Oval in London in June 2023.
In 15 First-Class matches, Jurel has scored 790 [email protected], with one century and five fifties, with a top score of 249. The 22-year-old scored 50 against the England Lions at Ahmedabad last month, and 69 against South Africa A at Benoni in December-both four-day matches.
Bumrah may be rested in Ranchi
Considering his workload and precious value to the side, there is a thought to give pacer Jasprit Bumrah a breather at some point in this five-Test series. “He could be rested for the fourth Test in Ranchi, which means that he will be fresh and firing for the fifth and final Test in Dharamshala in early March, which could well be the decider of this closely contested series. That’s the point where Bumrah’s presence will make a difference,” the source said.
Avesh needed ‘game time’
The selectors have been under-fire due to their decision to exclude pacer Avesh Khan from the squad for the last three Tests without giving him a chance to play in the XI in the first two Tests. “The idea is to give him game time, which is why he has been asked to go and play for Madhya Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy. He hasn’t played in February so far.
Akash Deep (his replacement) was picked because he did well for India A,” the source informed. “In any case, the two pacers for India at Rajkot will be Bumrah and Siraj,” he said.
‘Players must play Ranji Trophy’
It’s learnt that the BCCI isn’t too happy with certain established India players’ attitude towards red ball cricket, particularly the Ranji Trophy. “In the next few days, all the players will be communicated by the BCCI to play for their state team in the Ranji Trophy, as long as they are not on national duty, with only those who are unfit and recovering at the NCA being granted an exemption. The Board isn’t too happy with certain players already in IPL mode from January,” a source said.
Slow turner likely for Rajkot Test
Meanwhile, it’s learnt that a slow turner is likely to be on offer for the third Test. “The Indian team management is comfortable with a slow turner. They don’t want a raging turner,” a source said.
Jadeja, Pujara to be felicitated
The Saurashtra Cricket Association will felicitate Ravindra Jadeja and Cheteshwar Pujara for their contribution to Indian cricket on February 14 in Rajkot, at a function where the association will name its stadium after veteran administrator Niranjan Shah.