Axar available for selection, Washington up against Kuldeep for third spinner's slot

Kushan Sarkar
·3-min read

New Delhi, Feb 11 (PTI) India all-rounder Washington Sundar may have his nose ahead but he will get stiff competition from wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav for the third spinner's slot even as the BCCI on Thursday said slow left-arm bowler Axar Patel is available for selection for the second Test against England.

Axar has 'recovered completely and is now available for selection for the 2nd Paytm Test in Chennai against England to be played from Saturday', the BCCI said in a statement.

The all-rounder had complained of pain in his left knee and was ruled out of the first Test.

The board said that Shahbaz Nadeem and Rahul Chahar have been withdrawn from the main squad and added the duo back to the group of standby players.

The BCCI had uploaded a video footage of Axar's training session and even though it wasn't very conclusive, chances of him replacing Nadeem in the playing XI were pretty high.

Axar looked pretty gingerly with a heavy strapping just below the knee. While batting, he was beaten a few times by the pacers.

However, the team's youngest player -- spin bowling all-rounder Washington -- after his listless show with the ball in the series opener, might be in for some tough competition from left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep.

A final decision by the team's think-tank will be taken after the final practice session on Friday.

It is understood that the new pitch, which is darker in shade, is expected to offer turn and bounce much earlier compared to the late third day afternoon in the first Test.

Accordingly, India skipper Virat Kohli's lack of faith in Washington's finger spinners was evident during the England second innings on the fourth day when the pitch actually offered square turn at times with variable bounce.

'That Kohli gave Washington only one over was an indication that his first innings performance was rankling the skipper. Actually, he missed out on a chance to check if Washington was good enough when the ball turns square,' a former India player, who is watching the proceedings closely from Chennai, told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

'In terms of batting, he is definitely best among the spinners but his primary skill is not at the Test level and do you play him as a batting all-rounder, is the question.' When former selectors Jatin Paranjape and MSK Prasad were contacted, both felt that Washington should play but India must also prefer the attacking option of Kuldeep's wrist spin.

'I think if we are going for a rank turner, then Kuldeep is the best option for me. He has been around the group for significant time and I believe being around somebody like Bharat Arun has only helped him. I feel Kuldeep should replace Nadeem as Washy deserves another chance,' Paranjape told PTI.

Prasad echoed similar opinion as Kuldeep is a wicket-taking option.

'Kuldeep has experience of high pressure Test match like when he made his debut in Mohali against Australia. Washington batted beautifully and should get another chance,' Prasad said.

India Test squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Vice-Captain), KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Md. Siraj, Shardul Thakur. PTI KHS AH KHS KHS