Mukesh Kumar has 117 wickets from 32 first-class games at an average of 22.21 and Saurabh Kumar 231 wickets from 53 games at an average of 23.98
With the recent injury concerns plaguing India’s top bowlers ranging from Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami to Ravindra Jadeja, a few spots have opened up in India’s squad with the 2-Test series against Bangladesh set to begin on December 14 in Mirpur.
Two such players who might break into India’s Test team courtesy the injury issues affecting the top players and more importantly the top form that these potential candidates are in, is the duo of Bengal & India-A pacer Mukesh Kumar and Uttar Pradesh & India-A spin-bowling all-rounder Saurabh Kumar.
Saurabh Kumar wins another unofficial Test series for India-A, this time against Bangladesh-A, with his tweakers
India’s long time spin bowling all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is out with knee injury and still hasn’t recovered from the surgery he underwent back in September and the 29-year-old Saurabh from Uttar Pradesh is being seen as his ideal like-to-like replacement.
Saurabh took 6-74 for India-A in the second unofficial Test against Bangladesh-A and literally spun India to victory with his tweakers at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium. This is not something new for the spinner as he recently emerged as the highest wicket-taker in a home series for India-A against New Zealand-A. He bowled a match-winning spell in the final game of the series in Bengaluru against the Kiwis which not only marked him out as a performer at a level which is just next to the highest echelons, but also affirmed the quality of India’s domestic cricket on the world stage.
Saurabh’s record in first-class cricket is outstanding to say the least as he has an incredible bag of 231 wickets from 53 games at an exceptional average of 23.98 and a strike rate of 53. In the unofficial Test series against Bangladesh A, the left-arm spinner emerged as the highest wicket-taker with 15 wickets including a 9-wicket match haul in the first drawn game.
Saurabh is also quite useful with the bat as well. He made a quickfire 55 runs from 39 balls in India’s first innings which boosted the team total to 562/9d. The all-rounder has two centuries and 10 half-centuries to his name and he shined with the bat in Irani Trophy 2022-23 too which was held recently.
This makes him a complete package and its surprising that the veteran of UP cricket has not gone under the radar thus far. He definitely deserves a look-in as a replacement for the injured Jadeja.
Mukesh Kumar broke Bangladesh-A’s back with 6-40 in the first innings
Same thing goes for Mukesh Kumar, a medium fast bowler originally from Bihar. The 29-year-old player who represents Bengal in the domestic circuit, doesn’t operate at much pace and relies more on line & length and strong seam. He is a very good swing bowler, one who could be useful in helpful conditions. Mukesh has had an exceptional year in 2022, as far as first class cricket is concerned.
The Bengal pacer has scalped 43 wickets in this calendar year from 11 first-class games at an average of just over 20 and this includes the match-defining 6/40 he took in the first innings of the 2nd unofficial Test against Bangladesh-A which got over on Friday. Mukesh has already taken 20 wickets in the Ranji Trophy this year alone, and had good returns in the Irani Trophy as well. Besides, he was the second-highest wicket-taker for India-A in their unofficial Test series against New Zealand-A earlier this year, which included a fifer as well.
There is quite a lot of talk in the recent past about Mukesh being selected as the replacement for Mohammed Shami who sustained a shoulder injury after the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 held in Australia. Even India’s lead pacer Jasprit Bumrah has been sidelined due to injury for and this could be a golden opportunity for Mukesh if he gets one to show a good account of himself at the biggest stage.
Mukesh has got 117 wickets in 32 first-class games at an average of 22.21 and strike rate of 48.9.
India will play the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23 against Australia in February & March 2023. The Tests will take place in Nagpur, Delhi, Dharamsala and Ahmedabad and this short 2-Test series against Bangladesh could be the right time to give Saurabh and Mukesh a chance at the highest level.