India vs England, Edgbaston Test: Cheteshwar Pujara makes a comeback; Prasidh Krishna earns maiden Test call-up. Ajinkya Rahane injured out. Ishant Sharma, Wriddiman Saha dropped.
After a marathon innings of 193 against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Border Gavaskar Trophy 2018-19, which helped India draw the fourth Test, Cheteshwar Pujara had gone out of touch. In fact, the last time Pujara scored a century for Team India, Virat Kohli was India’s all-format captain, England hadn’t won a 50-over World Cup and Covid-19 pandemic didn’t exist!
The dry run from Pujara’s bat forced selectors to drop him from the squad from India’s last Test series at home against Sri Lanka. But as the cliché goes, form is temporary and class is permanent. Pujara went back to County cricket and toiled hard. The India number three piled up 720 runs in just eight innings for Sussex, which consisted of two double centuries - 203 against Durham and 201 not out against Derbyshire.
Pujara also hit one daddy hundred (170*) against Middlesex. Pujara's 203 at Hove in April came against a Durham attack that included seamer Matthew Potts, who was recently called up to England's Test squad for their home series against New Zealand. What was rather interesting to see more than the runs was the manner in which Pujara scored as he batted his team out of a difficult situation in the fourth innings on two occasions.
While the rest of the world was busy encashing on the riches, playing the Indian Premier League (IPL), Pujara was busy honing his skills as a pure Test batter. Pujara’s dedication and hardwork in England’s county circuit has finally paid off as he was called back to make a comeback in the Test squad for the fifth rescheduled Test against England to be played at Edgbaston in Birmingham from July 1-5. India currently lead the Test series 2-1.
India’s Complete Squad for Edgbaston Test against England
Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (vc), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant (wk), KS Bharat (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Prasidh Krishna
Pacer Prasidh Krishna earns Test call-up
Also, Rajasthan Royals (RR) pacer Prasidh Krishna has been included in India’s Test squad for the Edgbaston Test, even as veteran pacer Ishant Sharma has failed to make it to the squad. Wicketkeeper-batter Wriddhiman Saha has also not been included; he got dropped from the team ahead of the Sri Lanka series. Andhra Pradesh wicketkeeper-batter KS Bharat made the cut ahead of Saha into the Test squad as a backup for Rishabh Pant.
Shardul could be the X-factor
In the absence of a genuine bowling allrounder, Shardul Thakur could be an X-factor for Team India in the Edgbaston Test. Shardul has already given match-winning performances with both bat and ball in overseas conditions in Test matches but can still be groomed to be a proper bowling all-rounder. Shardul will be an asset for Team India, as he can bridge the balance of the squad. With Shardul in the squad, India can then play an additional spinner given his handy batting ability in the lower-order.
Meanwhile, former India Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has suffered an injury and will be out of action for a few months. Other than that, there are not many surprises in India’s Test squad for the England tour and most of the expected names have retained their place in the team.