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Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23: Suryakumar Yadav best replacement for Shreyas Iyer in Nagpur Test?

Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23: Suryakumar Yadav best replacement for Shreyas Iyer in Nagpur Test? KL Rahul or Shubman Gill to open for India in first Test?

Australia tour of India 2022-23: Suryakumar Yadav might get a chance in Shreyas Iyer's absence (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)
Suryakumar might get a chance in Iyer's absence (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

The most awaited Border Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia is on the horizon and is set to start from the 9th of February at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium in Nagpur. This will be the last Test series for both the teams in World Test Championship (WTC) 2021-23. While Australia with a percentage of points (PCT) of 75.56 have all but sealed a spot in the WTC Final to be held in June 2023, India with a PCT of 58.93 need to win this upcoming 4-match series comprehensively to book a place in the final game for the second consecutive time.

Though India have a largely settled side in Tests and rarely change their playing XI in the longest format, they do have several headaches going into the opening match of the series. The major decision the hosts have to make is regarding the number 5 batting slot.

For the unversed, the player who has been batting at number 5 and continuously doing well in the last few series in that position is Shreyas Iyer. Unfortunately, Iyer is out of action since the Sri Lanka ODI series played earlier this year and had to miss the recent white-ball series against New Zealand due to a back injury. He was expected to be fit in time for the Test series but as per recent reports, the middle order batter has still not recovered despite taking injections during his rehab at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru and is all set to miss at least the first Test against Australia in Nagpur.

Shreyas Iyer has been an integral part of the team plans in this format and has had a prolific start to his red-ball career for India. Having played all of his 12 innings (7 Tests) at number 5 or lower, the 28-year-old has accumulated 624 runs at an average of 56.72 including 5 fifties and a century on debut against New Zealand. The Mumbai batter is regarded as one of India’s best players of spin and his knock on the testing Mirpur pitch in the second Test against Bangladesh consolidates that assertion. This makes his absence from the first Test even more significant and gives the team management a real headache on which of the players they can choose to play at the number 5 position.

With Iyer not part of the team, India have three batters who can take up the mantle of being the number 5 batter in the Nagpur Test match, namely Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul and Shubman Gill.

Read More: Border Gavaskar Trophy: Five Memorable 21st century India-Australia duels played in India

Will India’s T20 superstar Suryakumar Yadav make his Test debut?

Uncapped at the Test level, Suryakumar Yadav is a veteran in the Indian domestic circuit. SKY as he popularly known, averages 44.75 in 79 first-class games scoring 5549 runs and smashing 14 centuries.

In the two games he played in the ongoing Ranji season for Mumbai, Surya scored 223 runs at over 73 with a couple of 90+ scores. And Surya’s form in white-ball cricket has been sensational in the past year or so.

Surya is the number 1 T20I batter in the world and his ability to sweep against spinners coupled with his experience of playing in turning conditions day in and day out, make him a compelling choice as the player to come in place of an injured Shreyas Iyer.

Read More: Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23: Spin options for India apart from Ashwin if Jadeja misses out

KL Rahul to play in the middle-order?

KL Rahul, who has played more often than not as an opener, also makes a case for batting in the middle order. Rahul has played 45 Tests for India but only once has he played at number 5 or lower. But if India want to go with experience in the middle order, then there is no better option than the 30-year-old KL Rahul at the vacant spot.

The stylish right-hander is not, however, new to play at number 5 for India. He does that regularly for the team in ODIs where he plays as a designated keeper-batter.

Bangladesh vs India, 1st Test, Day 3, Top Performances_ Shubman Gill scores his maiden Test Century (110); India set 512 runs target _ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Gill scores maiden Test Century on India tour of Bangladesh (Source: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Shubman Gill can also play a role in the middle order

Shubman Gill is in the form of his life and at the moment he is a batter who can do no wrong. Gill has scored a whooping 760+ runs in international cricket in just over a month and India can afford to take a chance with him as a middle order batter in the first Test.

The young batter played 24 of his 25 Test innings as an opener and has never batted at number 4 or lower in a Test match. However, his current form and team balance might make the team management look at Gill as a number 5 option. Unlike white-ball cricket, Gill has had a inconsistent start to his Test career as he has scored just 736 runs at an average of 32 with a solitary century coming against Bangladesh.

India do have options but at the same time but the absence of Iyer definitely poses a great headache for the team management.

Read More: Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23: With Pant out, mantle of tackling spinners on Pujara & Iyer

India's Probable Playing XI Against Australia in Nagpur Test

Scenario One

Rohit Sharma (C), KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill, KS Bharat/Ishan Kishan, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav/Axar Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami

Scenario Two

Rohit Sharma (C), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, KS Bharat/Ishan Kishan, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav/Axar Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami

Scenario Three

Rohit Sharma (C), KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, KS Bharat/Ishan Kishan, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav/Axar Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami

India need to win the series 2-1, 2-0 or 3-1 to book their place in the World Test Championship (WTC) Final to be played at The Oval in London in June this year.

Read More: Australia’s strong middle order & pacers present big challenge for India in Border-Gavaskar Trophy

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